Wintering

November 12th

I am awake. Early. Unreasonable, unrequired, undesired. Darkness still presses against the windows. Silence.

I stretch a leg out to the end of the bed, feeling for Izzy dog. She is not there. She never will be there again.

Those 14 years of daily rhythm and flow, easy companionship. No more. Every day starts like this now.    

Today is a Saturday and I am off to a county youth work conference. My travel crate is full of inspirational postcards, books, ADHD toys. I hope to sell some, or even give them away. Everything is full of Izzy. She even wrote the books. So many memories. So much shared love and fun, so much to be thankful for.

She demonstrated to young people that they could still live their best lives, without having to be the same as everyone else. Without always fitting in. Just find a passion and a purpose -“I realise I can be crazy and lovable all at the same time” said David aged ten.

She demonstrated to me that it was fun to go wild swimming, encouraged me to try paddleboarding (although sitting still was a bit boring for her wherever it was). That we could enjoy finding people in trucks, in water, hiding in fields in the dark. That it was fine to be independent, whilst close. To be both busy and restful. Slightly off field yet still whole.

Loosing a pet is now (hopefully) widely recognised as a painful experience. How can it not be? They live alongside us, very much a part of all aspects of our family life. For many they are the only family. Especially dogs, with their non judgemental approach, their relative dependence on us, their joy in everyday activities. Worldwide we now have many organisations providing pet bereavement support. They offer free, confidential advice and support through our grief. There are also books, videos, webinars, a myriad of mediums to help us through this inevitable process. That’s the thing -we sign up for the pain the moment we take on a pet. Inevitably they do not live long enough. Inevitably we are broken by their loss.

We seem freshly surprised each time at the depths of our despair. Inevitably, I am a serial victim of my own actions, of this life compulsively shared with dogs. I cannot stop signing up. Even though the loss is so brutal.

This time feels harder than before. She really was my best friend. This quirky girl found on the streets, narrowly missing death in the shelter, arrived in my life like a whirlwind. She is braided into the fabric of my life, entwined in thought and deed. Here or not.

I miss her.

There is an irreplaceable part of me missing.

I miss that part of me, alongside the deep missing of her.

Nothing is the same.

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