They say the 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. That sounds like a checklist, doesn’t it? Like when you are grieving you’ll go A>B>C>D>E and then you’ll arrive at acceptance fully grieved and ready to move on. It doesn’t work like that. You may not experience all 5. You may even experience several at once. I’ve found that you tend to jump to the one you’re most well acquainted with and, for me, that’s depression.

The Christmas before my 4th birthday I received a microscope. It’s a very exciting present for me because I was a strange 3 year old. It came with slides you could examine that the creators of this product believed would be interesting to a young child such as a blade of grass, some fungus, part of a grasshopper. But it also gave you the opportunity to create your own slides. I was very excited about this. In all the chaos that surrounded that particular Christmas because everyone seemed to be there, my Grumps scooped me up and my uncle, Graham, picked up the microscope and we went into the kitchen. Time is a confusing idea for a child so what felt like a very long time for me may not have been that long at all. But at some point, my Granny came looking for us as she’d noticed the 3 of us had disappeared. What she found was toddler Becca sat cross legged on the kitchen island with her granddad and her uncle showing her how the microscope worked and what it actually did. She came over and looked at what we were doing and saw that we had begun creating our own slides. I think she may have been concerned as well however as there was one slide only marked “G” that had a drop of blood on it and my uncle with a plaster on his thumb. A failed attempt at trying to look at blood cells under the microscope.

When I was 10, I had my reading interests broadened by that same uncle when he gave me the Phillip Pullman triology “His Dark Materials” for my birthday. Albeit they freaked me out a little bit but it did open my literary intake to more than just the Sleepover Club and Jacqueline Wilson novels. From that point onwards, Graham was the go-to man for reading suggestions in my mind.

One day, when I was 15 and not long after I’d dyed my hair practically black for the first time, we were all getting ready for a family gathering. My aunt, uncle, and cousins were up from Norfolk. I was wearing my “Master of Puppets” t-shirt, that is still probably one of my favourite shirts now, which warranted stuff said to me by other uncles like “Wait so are you an emo now?” not mentioning any names – though Nick, Chris and Mike I’m looking at you – and other fabulously witty comments along those lines because I come from a long line of comedians. Graham stood there and looked at me for a second before nodding his head and going back to whatever he was doing. Later that day he began a Spanish Inquisition style questioning of my music tastes in an attempt, I think, to figure out whether I was actually a fan of the music or I was attempting to make some kind of statement. That one conversation paved the way for many others regarding music. They for some reason always included a debate on whether or not Metallica’s “St Anger” album was really a bad album or whether or not it was misunderstood. For the record, Graham, Some Kind of Monster is one of the best songs on that record and I will go to the mat on that one.

I’m sitting staring at the two boxsets he gave me of a show called Dark Angel and I cannot for the life of me remember how that came about or how it ended up with him giving me them. But I guess I’ll need to give them a watch now. Although I don’t have anyone to discuss it with which makes me really just want to leave them on the shelf.

These things and many others that I don’t have time to list or even the ability to list are all incredibly important memories that I have. They in many ways are part of my journey in coming to know and realise who I am and how it’s okay to be different. And that’s gone now, and I’m really struggling with it. So go hug your family, or if your family are like mine go insult them in a loving way. Because it can be gone all too quickly.

That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.
– John Green


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