I regard her as a gift. Not just for the love and awe her tiny little form excites in me but for the way in which she has brought her mother and I closer. At least it feels that way to me. I sat with the phone held close to my ear relishing every breath, every pause. For a moment I lost my self-consciousness with her. We just talked. It was prosaic stuff, of no real import, but there was a naturalness, an ease between us that was manna to my heart.

She rang you back, he kept saying. She rang you back. She saw who’d called and she rang you back. She wanted to speak to you. Yes, I said, she did. I think of all those mothers I interviewed, the life coach in particular, with her tears coming in great wracking, noisy, boo-hooing sobs. She wanted to know her grandchild. Her daughter had informed her by email of his birth, had sent her a few snaps but held complete control as to when or indeed if she would be allowed to meet him. I stood outside of her pain, watched and tried to make sense of what it was that grieved her the most. Not being ‘normal’? A normal grandparent in the eyes of the world. Was that it? Or was there genuine pain at not being able to interact with the child of her blood. It was so hard to decide without asking her directly. We all feel differently. I am detached. I know this. It makes it all bearable. The grieving was impossible to live with. It had to stop. There is glass between us. Until, that is, she is in my sight. And now it is the two of them. They are of me. It is that simple. No one can take that away from you, he says, no one. Does it matter? Does this blood-ownership matter? It’s an ego thing, this needing to matter to another. She has so many who care for her, and I am glad of that. I want her to be safe, to be protected, guided and loved. I ask no more. I am a child when I do. And that is not her problem. She has done nothing wrong. Have I? I cannot say. She won’t tell me. I did the best I could. That is all. That is all.

I asked her. I plucked up the courage and asked her. She seemed delighted, he said afterwards. He’s right, she did light up. I touched her arm. I don’t know yet what it will bring. All I know is I need this interaction with real human beings. I want to hear their stories. Record and work with them. It is about the ordinary, at least as it seems on the outside but I want to find the extraordinary, to show the uniqueness, the idiosyncrasies.

Town is still quiet. Hardly any wind this morning but the air was chill. I felt the difference on my face, though it was not unpleasant. She replied saying, yes, you must come and stay. We will walk by the river. I am touched. I want to see friends this year. To stay with them, be in their sight for a little while. To connect, E. M. Forster wrote. And to see the two of them. My two little girls. Soon. February she said. Soon.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.