I knew something was wrong.
Something just didn’t feel right as I stepped off the school bus in my navy blue uniform and plodded along the pavement towards home. The skies were as ominously grey as they always were on a late winter’s afternoon in Liverpool, but on this particular day they seemed more gloomier than ever before.
As I turned the corner of our road, I noticed my Dad’s car was there. “That’s odd”, I thought, “He doesn’t usually get home from work until at least seven.”
My stomach began to turn.
I scurried up the front path and pressed the doorbell nervously, almost not wanting anybody to answer for fear of what I was about to be told.
My Dad answered the door straight away. His eyes were red and watery. He’d been crying. I’d never seen my Dad cry before. Ever.
My heart dropped to the floor and every organ in my body went with it. Emptiness took over and my mind fell still as I tried to understand what those words actually meant.
My Nanna was gone.
I’d never lost anybody before that day. Well, not really – only pets; our dog, Emma, our guinea pig called Sandy who loved to wee all over me and my hamster Snowy who ran away under the floorboards to Hamster Heaven.
But I’d never lost a human before then. And she was one of my favourites in the whole wide world.
She loved animals just as much as I did and told the funniest stories about my Dad when he was little. She let me put her hair up in rollers and put eye-shadow on her eyelids. And she made the best picnics ever – she cut the crusts off our sandwiches because she knew we didn’t want curly hair.
That night I lay under hot bubbles crying so many tears I thought the bath might overflow. I was fourteen years old and I didn’t understand it all; that life and death and God stuff.
“Why do people have to die?” I thought, “Why can’t we live forever? It’s just not fair”.
When I got out of the bath and put on my pyjamas, I took out my pen and paper and wrote a poem for my Nanna. Then a week or so later, when we were all dressed head to toe in black, I read that poem out to a room full of adults. And then they played this song.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.