A sea of black gathered as mourners waited to pay their respects to the late George Matthews. Some held hankies to their eyes, dabbing delicately at their tears, while others shared their favourite memories of the man.
Lyssa stood alone, away from the crowd as she observed the scene. The sun was too warm, resting in a cloudless sky. It seemed wrong, somehow, as though the sun was mocking their pain.
Despite the warmth, Lyssa felt numb. Rain would have been more fitting. It would have matched the atmosphere and complimented the emptiness she felt.
At least Grandpa George was leaving the world on a beautiful day. That brought her at least some comfort. He had died nine days ago after complications during surgery. Her grandfather had died on an operating table, alone and with no idea what was happening. She wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or incredibly sad.
The day after his death, her parents had made the long journey to support her grandmother.
Lyssa had left home thinking she would return not long after. Instead, her parents would leave the next day to pack up their house and moves their lives to Scotland.
Her grandmother needed their support, which is why Lyssa was staying behind. Her friends had been ringing her phone constantly after she had broken the news. How could she be leaving? What about the school dance? How could she leave when Ashley needed her to do her hair and Isla wanted to borrow her dress for a date? What about what they wanted?
It wasn’t as though Lyssa wasn’t sad to be leaving. She didn’t want to uproot her life. The change of schools meant she would be repeating a year. Who wanted that? She didn’t want to leave her home. She didn’t want to leave her friends, her boyfriend. This would suck and she knew it.
Why were her friends kicking up more of a fuss than she was?
She didn’t blame her parents, though they had apologised profusely. Lyssa loved her grandmother, she didn’t want her to be alone. Nor did she expect the woman to uproot her life and leave the home she had shared with her husband. She knew her grandmother needed to be close to Grandpa’s final resting place. She didn’t begrudge her parents’ decision.
But it still sucked.
Had things been normal, she would be sat in the dining room at school, no doubt in Robbie’s lap as her friends planned for the end-of-year dance.
She could picture them there, and her absence from the scene left an ache in her chest.
Her academic year was over. Though her mother had secured her a place in the local highschool, Scottish schools finished a full month earlier than England. She wasn't required to finish the term and would instead repeat the year in August. She was dreading it. She was going to be so behind.
Today wasn’t the time to be thinking about this, however. All Lyssa had to do was say goodbye to her Grandpa. Easier said than done.
Fuck, she missed him.
He had tried to call her the day before his surgery. She had been too busy with Robbie to take the call. She had planned to call him back, but forgot. An uncomfortable feeling of guilt had sat in the pit of her stomach since.
Lyssa had been replaying that day over and over in her mind. She should have answered the phone. She should have spoken to her Grandpa and wished him luck. She would have told him she loved him and missed him. They would have been comforting last words and try as she might, she couldn’t remember the last thing she said to him.
Now all she could do was whisper those words in the still of the night when her pillow dried her tears and her words were lost to the silence. She expected the guilt would lay heavy on her heart for some time.
Her Grandpa had been one of the most important men in her life. He had doted on her from the moment she had been born. There was no problem she couldn’t take to him and he had listened with a patient ear, offering sound advice.
Even living as far as they had, they remained close. They had regular conversations on the phone, he’d often send her gifts in the mail - usually a book he thought she’d find interesting. Christmas was her favourite holiday because she knew she would see her grandparents. Last year, they had gotten her a laptop for her studies. She had spent most of their visit teaching her Grandpa how to use the video call function.
He was always there for her, a sturdy figure in her life. Reassuring. Comforting.
And she didn’t answer the fucking phone.
A figure broke away from the mourners and approached her. Lyssa attempted a smile for her grandmother, whose kind, weathered face remained strong. She wouldn’t cry today. Not until she was alone, and she had taken care of her guests.
Lyssa admired her for that, she envied her strength.
She couldn’t even summon the courage to join her family and enter the damn church. As though separating herself from the other mourners would prevent her grandfather from leaving them.
“Come on, Pet. It’s time.”
Lyssa’s forehead creased as she swallowed past the lump forming in her throat. She didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to say goodbye.
Her grandma offered her hand, sharing her strength with Lyssa. She took it and held on tightly. She needed to stop being a child.
Her grandmother was saying goodbye to the man she had been married to for forty-six years. The least Lyssa could do was offer her the same strength.
Together they walked into the church and said a last goodbye to the man they both loved.