Sunday, 7 June 2009


This last year has made me all too aware of the fragility of life.

When you see a strong, healthy and very fit person snatched away, seemingly for no reason, it makes the world a very scary place all of a sudden. One of the 'certainties' on which we had based our long-term plans was that R would probably outlive me by a decade or more. When he calculated what sort of pension provision he would need, his assumptions included the need to fund a long and active retirement. I, on the other hand, assumed that my pension needs would be much more modest.
Now? Who knows?
When your plans lie about your feet like so much broken glass, it seems foolish and hubristic to have made them in the first place.

I was also shocked to discover the fragility of the edifice that is the "new me" I had built up over the months. I was starting to feel positive more often than not and, even if I still did not particularly want the new future I could see ahead of me, at least I could see it and its many possibilities.

Nearly losing the dog seemed to erase that hard-won progress at one fell swoop.

Getting Moose was the catalyst for a series of events that radically changed our lives, and ultimately led to our move to Wales. Apart from the day-to-day joy he brings as a companion, he is such a strong link to R and a particularly happy period of our lives.
When I thought I was going to lose him as well, the strength of my reaction really shocked me. I felt the ground give way beneath my feet, and found myself sliding back down the big snake, if not to square 1 then at least to square 4 or 5. The lump of lead was back in my stomach and all the forward movement of the last couple of months was simply wiped out.

Is this always going to happen, I wonder? Or will there ever come a time when I will be able to apply the necessary perspective to an event like this without falling apart? I so crave those feelings of stability and certainty that used to characterise my life. Reassembling the shards of this delicate glass object every time it falls to the ground and shatters is physically and mentally exhausting. Surely this has to get better.


  1. I'm glad to read that Moose is home with you and seems to be making a good recovery. I can well understand how you have been feeling these few days. When my husband died from cancer, I almost lost my collie as she had stopped eating and wouldn't leave his side for the last few weeks. By the day he died, she couldn't get up onto her feet anymore without being lifted. She's better now, but she's ten and I worry about her a lot. I decided to get a collie pup about 2 months ago -- I suppose you could call her "insurance" that I (hopefully) won't be left entirely alone any time soon. I also wonder if I'll always feel as though the other shoe is about to fall -- which is how things feel these days.

  2. It will get better.
    You'll still get flashbacks, but you'll be in a stronger position when you get them, and it won't be as overwhelming. Flashbacks will also seem less negative as you find some happy experiences to place atop the sad ones.
    You're building a new you, but you have to build the foundation under it as well, and that takes time.
    Give yourself credit for every bit of stability you gain. They totally count.

  3. I wish I could call you up as a friend and say, "Hey, lets meet at the local Starbucks and talk about this over coffee" because this post brings up such deep emotions in me. (Or maybe sharing some wine would be better!)

    After facing the death of my husband, there is just no way I will ever look at a future loss (or potential loss) with anything less than the great significance it deserves. And if that means falling apart for a moment, so be it. Your going backwards isn't really going back. You're dealing fully with an experience that demands tremendous emotional output and insight. That is what's causing you to feel exhausted, etc. But in actuality, fully experiencing this event is the only way you can now, given your past. And that is okay.

    For months I put off taking some of our cats to the shelter because I knew they would probably be put to sleep (I won't even go into the reason as to why we had a houseful of cats). I just could not bear the thought of adding more death to my life. No one could understand my reasoning - "they're just cats" everyone would say. But my perspective has been forever changed by my losses and I know it won't be any different in the future. It can't be and I'm not sure I want it to be either. Losing my husband made me recognize the sacredness of life as you too have realized.

    So in dealing with the situation involving Moose, you're reacting in a more sophisticated, realistic, complicated and honest way than you would have in the past. And to me that is progress. Painful progress maybe but in the end, far more commendable than if this event hadn't held as much meaning in it.

  4. @ Bev: Thank you for understanding. I saw the picture of your beautiful collie on your blog. She is a gorgeous dog and brought back lots of happy memories for me - we had one just like her when I was a girl.

    @ Supa: Your insight and reassurance are always so welcome. I live at the top of a very windy hill, so the need for solid foundations makes total sense to me. I just need to be less impatient!

    @ WitM: Thank you so much for your thoughtful message. What you say about the change in perspective makes so much sense to me - how can it be any different? As you say, however much we wouldn't have chosen this experience, it has inevitably changed the way we look at life and thus death.