It’s been almost a month since I was told Tommy had a week left, but as I tell everyone who asks, he’s still breathing!
It’s been a strange month, with a rollercoaster of emotions, not all related to Tommy, which has taken me rather by surprise. Given that he’s seen me through so much … four strokes, heart surgery, two marriages that both ended in divorce, an upheaval to another country from one I didn’t want to leave … I suppose it’s not surprising that a lot of thoughts and feelings are coming up. Tommy has been a constant in my life for more than twelve years, and unlike Sandie who follows me around in need of love and affection all the time, Tommy has spent his life giving love and affection to me. I’ve always thought that Tommy has had a strange ability to know exactly how I’m feeling.
But for this past month, my energy has gone on trying to work out how he is feeling. I look out for any signs that he might be in pain or is ready to go. Every night I actually ask him if he’s in pain and tell him it’s OK if he wants to go. Occasionally he has seemed a little agitated when it’s bedtime so I lie on the floor next to him until he is calm and falls asleep. It doesn’t take long.
I sleep lightly … the pitter patter of his movements in the night pull me to his side to check he’s OK. And just before 6am I rush to open the back door because I know I have only a minute before his bladder will burst. He has always been such a clean dog and I don’t want him to feel distressed by an accident. Even though there are wee mats around, just in case.
And then the tail wags and wags and his eyes light up. He rubs his face along my legs, my arms, my neck, anywhere as long as he is right up close to me. My heart breaks because I can now feel his bones when once he was such a robust little dog. But still, I SAVOUR these moments every morning … this is when he is at his most snuggly. He won’t cuddle me much during the day anymore, preferring to lie alone in cold places in the house now, but that’s OK … I just want him to be comfortable even if that means without me.
I hold his bowl up and on an angle during mealtimes, so it’s comfortable for him to eat. And I enjoy watching him snuffle down his sausages and cheese so happily that I don’t realise until he’s finished that my legs are numb.
I am so, so grateful right now that I run my own business mainly at home. I am here with him for almost every moment, every day and night. I have managed to do my Cirencester markets, just a few minutes walk from here so I can pop back during the day. But Swindon is too far and too long a day for me to feel comfortable leaving him … when the moment comes when he is in pain or if he goes suddenly of his own accord, I can’t bear to think of him being alone.
I haven’t grieved before. I never grieved the loss of myself after the strokes, I never grieved the end of my first marriage, I never grieved the loss of my life in Japan, and I never grieved the loss of the person I was before the abuse in my second marriage. I’ve just got on with life, because I had to.
But being so close to Tommy as he comes to the end of his life is teaching me that it’s OK to grieve. I will miss him so, so much.