Content Warning: discussion of death
Steady red LED of the phone charging. Blinking red LED of the battery pack charging. Large backpack at the foot of the bed, packed. Small backpack beside it, mostly packed.
Clothes laid out for the morning scramble, sandwiches in the fridge for the journey, cling-wrapped. Slight sense of slightly-misused time, hovering. Wishing I had talked to my best friend in the past two days.
I'm ready to leave another place, one that I've been to since childhood. In five hours I'll be saying goodbye to my grandmother's house, and probably, her as well. This year she'll be 98 years old, and though she's in great shape for her age and still lives on her own, I don't know if I'll see Nana, as we call her, again. I don't plan to be back to Australia for a couple of years and I can't assume she'll still be alive when I come back.
I remember leaving my grandmother's house the last time my whole family was in Australia together. She stood at the top of the hill overlooking the road out of town, waving her hand over her head. Dad drove, Mum cried in the passenger seat, my two brothers and I were sad silently in the back. Mum didn't cry much so we knew it was a big deal; her dad had died five years before and she said she didn't think she'd see Nana again. Despite being fifteen at the time, it's one of the very few moments of that trip I remember clearly.
Twelve years later, Nana is alive and mostly well. Since that day twelve years ago she's had chemotherapy, outlived a dog that was supposed to ease her final years, and kept going to knitting and former service women clubs. She and my grandfather used to own much of the surrounding farmland as the old family farm; now it has all been sold off and new houses block the view to the road. The old machine shed with the diesel smell I loved, and the rock outcropping that was the perfect spot to watch the sunrise, are now in other hands. A little grove where my mum and uncles used to play has long since been cut down to make room for housing.
My grandmother sometimes seems like the Queen, that she'll outlive us all. I know I have to prepare myself for her not being here when I come back but it's difficult to imagine how the family will function knowning that she isn't there anymore. She and the house deserve their own post aside from my premature eulogizing, how they are still the focal point of family socializing. For me, as I say goodbye tomorrow morning, I know the family will also be totally different when I return, and I wonder if it will retain some form of neutral space and person. Wow, the more I write the more I find there is to write. I must get to bed, but knowing that there is so much to delve into here is so exciting! I wish I had started earlier, being out of the country will make this much harder.