It's two years since my grandfather passed away very suddenly, and in some ways I'm still trying to get my head around it. 'It', I suppose, being somebody you've known since you were born instantly not being there anymore. It doesn't make sense to me, and yet it used to make sense to me before I ever lost anybody close to me. I still find myself seeing people with the vaguest resemblance to him, and just for a moment, being annoyed with him for not bothering to get in touch for the last couple of years. Then once I realise it's not him, my annoyance shifts to the imposter, just because it's not him. Them my annoyance finally moves to myself, for being so irrational.

I've always seen comedy and tragedy as intertwined, and was recently watching an interview of Brian Blessed by Piers Morgan. My love of the former just about cancelled out my hatred for the latter. Watching clips of Brian Blessed on Have I Got News For You is one of my main ways to cheer myself up if I've had a bad day, but I have to confess I'd never really seen him as much more than a comedy character. I didn't expect what he said to be profound or moving, but it was. He had lost two family members (I think it was his mother and brother) in very quick succession, and was asked if he missed them. He answered that of course he did, but that they weren't dead to him. He went on to say that he believed that it's life that has the last word, and death does not. At the risk of admitting that I'm basing a fair amount of my life philosophy on Brian Blessed (although what if I am, he's awesome), I think that's a much better way of looking at it than 'I can't believe he's gone'.

I found something similar when watching the Royle Family, another thing I occasionally watch when I'm feeling down. There's a character called Joe, a neighbour of the Royles, whose wife, Mary, dies in one of the later episodes. It's then a running joke that he'll refer to 'My wife, Mary – she's dead at the moment'. I think this is meant to be funny rather than hugely profound, although the two don't cancel each other out, but it fits in with what I'm coming to think. The fact that somebody's dead should be an afterthought – just a detail, although it never feels like one. In Joe's case, the thing that comes first is his wife, Mary. The thing that matters is that they were there, and the grammatical tense isn't so important, even if that tense change causes a lot of grief. I still have clear memories of my grandpa: how he'd invariably get food caught in his beard whenever he ate, how he suggested to the 12 year-old me that I become a hooker (I'd recently taken up rugby, and he meant THAT kind of hooker), how he blushed and giggled when refusing to tell us stories of what on earth he'd got up to in the army, and seeing his utter joy when my nan announced that my sister Niamh had been born. Even if I didn't remember, it wouldn't matter. He was here. Life has the last word.

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