Grief is the weirdest thing of all.

People, poets and playwrights tell you all kinds of things about love. They tell you how unpredictable and devastating it can be, but to me, grief has so far succeeded in outstripping love.

My grandfather was an actor. He wasn’t exactly famous. He was That Guy of the sixties and seventies for just about every British movie and T.V. show you could name. You know, the guy who you’ve seen in something before, but can’t quite think of his name. That was my grandfather. We had pictures lining our hall right from his time on stage, fresh out of drama school, playing Hamlet and Romeo, breaking hearts with his dashing good looks, to stills from his later movies, when he started to age and play the Prospero and King Lear characters instead.

In the eighties and nineties, when I was still little, he kept popping up in T.V. programmes and radio shows, and was still working really hard. Occasionally, if there was a Sunday that his schedule allowed it, he’d come over for dinner at our house and stay until it was my bedtime, and then he’d read me a story. He had this wonderful way of being able to put on any voice that he wanted, any accent you can think of, and could do impressions of everyone, and as he read, he would put on faces – I don’t know if he even realised he was doing it. I sat up on those Sunday nights, probably long after my real bedtime, as Granddad read me Robin Hood with Yorkshire twangs, Puss In Boots, where Puss was French, and The Wind In The Willows with everything from West Country to R.P. accents; all these lovely, different voices for each character…

He died suddenly of a heart attack when I was nine. I was sad, but… I didn’t really understand it very well. I cried at the funeral, but that was because I saw my mother and aunt crying. What I felt at the time, though I wasn’t to know it, was not Real Grief. I couldn’t get my head around the change to actually grieve at the time.

The only thing that changed immediately was that we went from occasionally seeing him on Sundays to, well, never seeing him. My mother – his daughter – started to panic that it would all be too much for me, so she went into overdrive, and suddenly, there was always something to do on a Sunday. I was over at a friend’s house, or I had a friend over, or we went to a theme park, or we were out for the day in another city or town. I looked forward to Sundays as I never had before, because I knew we were going to do something adventurous.

It sounds awful, but I barely noticed he was gone. I just got on with life.

As you invariably do, I grew up, went to high school, and got into university. I’d discovered Shakespeare, and decided to study English with Drama. Mum laughed when I told her, though there was a degree of sadness in her eyes. “That’s because of him, no doubt.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, but she chose not to say anything else about it.

By my third year, my love of Shakespeare was at its peak, so it seemed a natural decision to do my dissertation on his work. I bought books, I was on the internet all the time, and I eventually found these radio dramatizations from years ago, and downloaded as many of them as I could.

I’d listened to several by the time I was in the library that day. In between research stints, I was listening to the plays through earphones. There was one play I’d been quite looking forward to and saving, without really knowing why: Love’s Labour’s Lost.

I shut my eyes and listened to the first few minutes as the ageing recording crackled across new technology… Then this voice started speaking, in the character of Berowne, the young lead, and for a few seconds I thought: ‘I know that voice.’ I recognised it, but didn’t have a clue who it might be.

Suddenly, it hit me. Who it was. With my heart pounding, I checked the date of the recording online, to found out it was one of the first plays as a lead my grandfather had ever done, at only a year older than me at the time. And in an instant, my heart burst with love and pride and I lost the next half an hour of my life.

When I ‘came to’, there was a small group of concerned and confused-looking people all about me. The librarian had my head in her lap, two people from my course were asking me if I could see them, and my face from my temples all the way down to my neck was sodden wet with crying.

In that moment, when I’d realised who he was before he was my grandfather, twelve years of incomprehension, and lost friendship, and lost guidance, and lost pride, all came crashing through my head at once. I tied two people together – the man who had once been young and ambitious and with stars in his eyes about the future, just like me, and the man who had given his time to his grandchild, to use the talent he had garnered over years in his field, to simply read them a bedtime story and make their world a little more magical for longer.

It took my knowing that to realise as an adult, what I’d lost too soon as a child.

But then, as I said, grief is something that, to me, makes even less sense than love. Maybe the two are just different versions of the same thing.

By Lexi Wolfe