Melly by Kitty Bate
you are more than capable.
She loved horses, and tigers too. On the day of the funeral I wore my tiger necklace. My grandma saw it when she hugged me. “Mel loved tigers”, she said. I didn’t have the strength to say anything, so I just nodded. I’d visited Nepal in 2018, and Melly was so excited for me. The morning I left, she texted me “Have a fantastic trip - there will be challenges but embrace them - you are more than capable”. When I was in Kathmandu, I brought two small bronze tiger figurines. I gave one to her when I got back and kept the other for myself, to remind us both of our strength and courage. It was the one thing I wanted to keep from her flat. Our tigers run together now on my bookshelf.
Heartbreak is a whole load of things. It’s the handwriting in the last birthday card she sent me. “Shake your tail feathers!”, she wrote, and stuck in some lost feathers from the parrots she kept. It’s the way my WhatsApp says “last seen…”. It’s the way my old Instagram posts still have her comments underneath. It’s holding onto her coffin and not wanting to let go. And seeing my family cry. That’s really hard too.
I felt completely numb for ages. I moved to London for university the morning after she died. I was making new friends, starting my new course, and just generally being busy. I felt heartless and guilty for not feeling anything, for not crying every day. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that everyone deals with heartbreak differently, and that’s okay. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve. It hits you at the most random times. Sometimes it’s a few tears, and sometimes it completely takes over. I’ve learnt that it’s completely fine to be a total mess, but it’s also fine to have a laugh with your friends.
Healing isn’t linear.
I had dinner with my family in Melly’s flat after the funeral and I went home with some of her books. One of them is a tiny, beautifully illustrated book of William Blake’s poetry. When I found it on the shelf I opened it on a random page. ’The Tyger’ was what it fell open on. No joke.
When I think about the fact I’ll never see her again, it makes me feel sick. She won’t be at my graduation. She won’t be at my brother’s wedding. She won’t even be at a family dinner. But when I really think about it, I know she’ll see it all. My life with Melly hasn’t ended, it’s just a little different to before.
It didn’t hit me for a really long time. The heartbreak, that is. I only accepted that it was real when we turned the corner on the day and I saw her. My Aunty Melly. This time, however, it wasn’t at a family lunch, or a on a dog walk, or down at the stables. This was Melly’s funeral, and I’d come to say goodbye.
Aunty Melly was amazing. She was hilarious, courageous, and gave me the best advice. She was always excited about anything I achieved, yet still encouraged me to go as far as I could, to be bigger and better. She was always so positive, even in the hardest times, and there was always laughter when Melly was around.
One of my favourite memories is when I drove her to see my horse, Carrie, on Boxing Day. I’d just passed my driving test, so I was nervous, but Melly put me at ease. We talked about boys and jobs and university. We talked about art and travelling. We didn’t stay long with Carrie, but she took a picture of me on my polaroid. It’s on my noticeboard now. She isn’t in the picture but I still like it. It reminds me that she’s there, even though you can’t see her.
Hey! I’m Kitty and I’m currently in London studying History of Art at The Courtauld Institute. When I’m not in the city I live with my parents in Worcestershire. It’s a contrast from London but I love being out in the countryside and spending time with my family, so I’m very lucky to get the best of both worlds! I’d love to work in art restoration when I graduate, or something to do with film and television. I spend most of my free time messing about with cameras and taking photographs, my instagram is @kittybecruisin if you’d like to take a look. I’m always up for a chat, and any support means the world!