Like a Giant Stalking Thing

They say death comes in threes. Logic tells me that can’t be true, that there’s an incredible number of people dying every day, so how can death come in threes?

But this month has been hell for me, for my friends, for my family – and death did come in three.

Earlier in the month, my best friend from high school passed away. It was terrible and tragic. She was so young. Always full of life. Smiles and friendship for anyone who wanted it, and even for a couple of people who didn’t. I’ve already written about how lost I feel without her.

Late last week, another of my very closest friends got word that her father had been in killed in a road accident. He was a good man, a good father, and my friend was devastated. Although I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, I had spent enough time with him to know that he was kind, intelligent, honest, good, and generous in every sense of the word. I was, and am, devastated for my friend and her family.

And then on Sunday afternoon my sister called to say that our grandfather was in hospital and the nurses didn’t think he would make it. A later message that the doctor thought the nurses had overreacted offered some hope, but Monday morning brought with it a phone call from my brother with the news that Oupa had passed away at midnight.

It is, without doubt, thanks to his love of art, of poetry, of prose, and of music, his profound respect for the books in his care (he still had some of his set-work books from high school, in immaculate if aged condition) that I am a writer today. Possibly not solely, as my mother was also an avid reader and books were always important in my family, but it was Oupa’s opinion, Oupa’s approval that mattered most.

We argued. A lot. I wasn’t a very good granddaughter for a long time. But even when we’d argued, even when we weren’t talking, he sent me books to encourage me to keep writing – which was often the very thing we’d argued about.

With everything that’s happened in the last couple of months, there have been times when I have seriously considered putting down my pen and stepping away from the keyboard for good. These deaths, especially Oupa’s, have brought things into sharp focus for me.

No matter what, I will keep writing.

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