Last Thursday I got to perform on stage at a major theatre as Juliet in a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the day that we did the production was exactly ten years since my Grandma, the woman who brought me up, died.
I remember feeling this flood of tears welling up as we were waiting in the wings and needed a cuddle from Daddy (Lord Capulet) before we went on- the thought that the one person I wanted to see that play couldn’t be there was difficult for me to deal with, and something that hit me each time we performed it from then onwards.
Anyone who has acted with me (especially Romeo) can testify that I am not only the queen of corpsing but also one of the most easily distracted people ever- the way that I keep my focus and a straight face is to imagine that I am keeping eye contact with my Grandma, I picture her face and hold her gaze- this was a technique to I had to use a hell of a lot in this production as I never left the stage but spent the scenes I wasn’t involved in sat in a freeze frame.
It helped to do this because it made me feel like she was there with me, not just watching but an integral part of the show itself. She was like the unsung hero, the star that no-one saw. I wanted to bring her onto the stage with me because I always felt that she should have been on stage, she should have been revered and adored in the way that only leading actresses are.
I can’t believe that it’s been a decade since I stood in a field and watching her ashes being poured into the wind. The strongest and oldest memory I have is of standing in that field and telling myself to remember that moment, remember how I was feeling and what I was seeing because it was important, and I knew that in years to come it would be a memory that I would replay a thousand times and cling to.
I know I have ‘grief issues’ every psychiatrist, counsellor and social worker I have ever seen has said that I have ‘grief issues’ even some of my friends have worked out that I have ‘grief issues’ so that’s not something I’m going to go into anymore detail about, all I want to say is that when it comes down to it I miss my Grandma.
I can’t believe that’s it’s been ten years- a whole decade- I always thought that I’d never make it, that I’d be dead long before it ever reached this point. I remember a couple of years ago being sat and feeling sick at the prospect of having lived more of my life without her than with her- but now it’s happened, and I’m not sure how I feel about it- I mean, there’s noting I can do about it, and it’s only going to get worse.
She’s dead- she’s gone, I know this and I accept this, but the realisation that I will never get to speak to her or see her again is one that I can’t get my head around- and frankly I don’t want to. There are hundreds of thousands of things I want to tell her, sometimes I feel like I’m going to burst- and nothing I do makes it feel any better. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it isn’t going to get any better.
I keep her alive in the only way I can- by taking her with me when I go onstage.