The moment I feared for 10 years…

10 years ago, I had just broken up with my boyfriend and was temporarily living in my friend Agatha’s bedroom with all my crap all over the place. My nail technician mentioned this lovely lady whose nails she did at her house and that she was renting out a room in her wonderful flat in Hampstead and looking for a tenant.

That’s the day I met Rita, 86 year old lady from Guyana and her wonderful husband Ged. We instantly connected when we met. And I had never felt so loved unconditionally by someone who didn’t know me from Adam.

We would spend hours in the kitchen talking and her stories were eye-opening. They always started with “when I was in between marriages, not the first and the second, but the second and the third….”
To me this start of a story always signified her confidence and ability to see perspective. She had wealthy times and times of hardship and she worked hard to provide for her children but her grace and confidence to me always oozed: ‘I love myself, why wouldn’t someone else love me’
When I was going through my divorce I remembered that a lot and when I saw her for the first time after my divorce about a year ago, I smiled and told her “I’m in between marriages right now” and she gave me a smile in approval.

One of my favourite stories was when she told me:
‘I said this to my granddaughter and I love you like a granddaughter too so I will say the same to you…. Let’s walk to the mirror…. Look! What do you see?
(I smiled because I knew this was going to be interesting…) she continued and said: YOU ARE UGLY! Not to me! You are beautiful to me, but in the eyes of society you are ugly! Especially as a model, whatever isn’t perfect about you will always be highlighted. Beauty fades, make sure your value isn’t measured by your beauty…”

She always took care of me when I was sick, loved seeing me all dressed up when I went to balls and award ceremonies, always supportive…
And for the first time in my life, 10 years ago, I had a fear of loosing someone.
She was the oldest person I knew and loved so dearly.
Every time we would spend a few hours enjoying a cup of tea and a chat I would go to my room and have a little cry when I thought about her not being there one day…

She was at my wedding, she has played with my baby….
And when my husband and I separated and I was such an emotional wreck, I didn’t want to upset her with my sadness so in that period I didn’t speak to her at all but I thought of her every day and I had such a fear of calling the house and possibly hearing that she passed away…

A couple months ago, we went to visit her, she was poorly and bed bound and 95 years old but her face lit up when she saw me and I could feel the love she extended to my daughter… Her husband Ged told me that after I moved out she couldn’t bring herself to rent my room to anyone else, it was forever known as Rachel’s bedroom even after all those years… And she had set up “my” bedroom as her room where she received 24/7 care…

About an hour ago, I received a call from her daughter who told me she passed away last Thursday. And she said Ged wanted me to know how much she loved me and always spoke so fondly of me… I cried….
Last week Thursday, I was an emotional wreck, I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop crying for the whole day… Eventually I remembered that the following day would have been my wedding anniversary and I thought, maybe that’s what’s surprisingly affecting me…
And now I know that wasn’t it… On some level I knew…

I don’t want to speak to anyone right now, but I wanted to somehow express my feelings so I could digest it before I go to the funeral. In the hope that writing about it would make me feel stronger.

To be honest, I feel like a coward, every day I think of her and always have but at the fear of losing her, I didn’t visit as often as I should have…

I will forever cherish our memories, Rita… And I’m grateful for the time we had…

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3 thoughts on “The moment I feared for 10 years…

  1. Hi Rachel. Touching piece. I know exactly how this feels as I watch my favourite uncle in Jamaica aving, with me worrying about the inevitable…

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