Picture: Chiara Bautista

I miss my Gramps.

Such an obvious thing I know. But it’s hard because I don’t allow myself to do those sorts of things. To miss someone.

I miss his silly sense of humour and the faces he’d pull: he was always so cute.

My sister found an old text he sent her (she lives in the flat above his), she asking what a crashing noise was, he replying that it was him throwing a hot-water bottle at the cat, she replying how she was cracking-up laughing! They had a love-hate relationship the cat and him.

A picture I have of him with gleeful intent popping bubble wrap.

The seemingly ever-lasting, life-long amount of dark brown paint with which he painted everything.

I’m not doing very well at all at the moment. Everything’s becoming too much and I feel like I’m about to have a breakdown. I’ve felt like this before, when I was younger and deeply depressed. I don’t want to adult anymore.

99% of my problems are other people related: my research isn’t going anywhere because I can’t get participants. I am incredibly organised, and my studies are thoroughly thought through. I contact people to do my studies, and of the tiny percentage that bother to reply initially, getting them to commit or just turn up is seemingly impossible.

I hate living with other people. As nice and vetted to suit my personality as they are, they still cause me stress and anxiety. I would gladly live alone. But not only are there no affordable places for me to be able to afford to live by myself, what almost-affordable places there are are hovels.

L causes me stress. He doesn’t understand why I get so anxious and stressed. And this is not a word I bound about as many do: I get stressed. I do not feel I have the resources, psychological or physical, to cope with the demands placed on me by others, or myself. This results in deep anxiety, which manifests as physical discomfort: increased cortisol; nausea; a general feeling of being crushed, or drowning, or needing to run away from everything and be alone.

What I’ve realised is I have no place to be alone, quiet, and left to be alone – with no other-people demands. I don’t have this place in my own home because I live with other people. I don’t have this at L’s because he can also be a source of stress. I certainly don’t have this at my office, even though no-one comes to see me there.

I don’t have this place because it disappeared when Gramps died. A bit before this even because he was so ill for a while.

Every-time I’d visit Gramps I’d end up sleeping on his sofa, he sitting in his armchair adjacent to me reading, doing a crossword or his cross-stitch. I did not need to be alone because he let me be. He didn’t put demands on me. This was (would still be) the most peaceful place in the world for me, and that’s difficult because even there I would have anxiety, be overthinking. But it was quiet and Gramps was there, just being Gramps. He didn’t know I was autistic, that came after he’d gone. But, for a little while on his sofa I was as peaceful as I think my autistic-ness would ever let me be.

And so, I miss him.