Author Archives: Caroline Pover

Experiences of writing, and writing of experiences

I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to find time to write more. It’s probably the only thing missing in my life right now … not because of the need to express myself as I have some lovely friends I can freely do that with, but because of the need to reach out and comfort, inspire, inform, or support others. That’s always been my motivation for writing, right back to when I wrote my first book. I’ve got the beginnings of three memoirs on my laptop … one about the strokes, one about Tohoku, and one about surviving narcissistic abuse, all of which are in one way or another, intended to help other people. I know I’ll get round to finishing them but in the meantime, I’ll try to write more blog entries.

I’ve always found that writing about your own experiences is the best way to touch others. I am always overwhelmed by readers’ private or public responses, and by how many people may have had similar experiences. People I THINK I know surprise me by writing privately to me about how my writing helps them, which makes it worthwhile. Because it’s not easy writing about some things. I understand why some people keep their experiences private but it’s too difficult for me to be silent. I feel like I’m hiding things. I’m an open book by nature. Always have been. I wear my heart on my sleeve and find it impossible to lie. Writing comes very easily to me. And transferring difficult experiences from the private domain to the public domain has always been a vital part of healing for me as well as a way to reach others. I didn’t write about my strokes for months, if not years. It was too difficult an experience to remember, but a big part of healing for me is turning difficult experiences into opportunities to help others. I hope that my writing about how Tommy died will help dog owners know what to expect … I would have loved to have known this in the weeks leading up to his leaving me.

But not everyone is comfortable reading such personal stories, especially about unpleasant or painful topics. Topics that are written about in a raw, truthful, deep-inside-your-gut kind of way. Some people want to push these things away, pretend they don’t exist, refuse to acknowledge the pain and struggles that others deal with. I feel a bit like that whenever I see pictures of animal cruelty on Facebook. I scroll past them quickly, ignore the stab in my chest or the sting in my eyes, and sometimes unfriend the poster, not because I don’t like that person, but because I don’t like the feelings their sharing evoke in me. It’s easier to pretend cruelty doesn’t exist, and to convince myself that even though I KNOW it does, if I unfriend that person, I will have one less reminder that there are horrible, horrible people in the world, who do horrible, horrible things.

So as I follow up on my promise to myself to write more, I know I will make some people uncomfortable. I’m not going to apologise. I’m tired of worrying about everyone else. I know I will lose some Facebook friends, and maybe even friends in real life, and I’ll deal with that. I’ve dealt with worse. It actually frees you up to write even more honestly. And sometimes we have to come to terms with the fact that not all friends have a place in your life after difficult times (I lost a few after the strokes when I was no longer able to go out drinking with them) but you can still feel grateful for the earlier times you did share.

My writing will make people uncomfortable. But the people who feel uncomfortable are not the people I’m trying to reach out to. It is the people who are stuck in the middle of difficult experiences, whether that be recovering from a head injury, losing a pet, or moving on from abuse. I’m writing for you. I’m reaching out to you. Please keep reading. You’re helping me too xxx

Taking sides

We’ve all seen couples break up when we’re friends with both. It’s shit. And if we’re decent people we generally try to stay friends with both and hope that given time, the former couple might be able to be friends again, or at least be civil to each other or not make anybody else feel uncomfortable in their presence. I remember when my first husband and I separated, we both tried to be so considerate of the feelings of our mutual friends and both families, that we both made the effort to be kind and respectful to each other both in public and private. So much so, that when we met up with a couple of friends only weeks after we’d split up, who later confessed to being a little nervous about seeing us together, instead they were really surprised to find out how well we were getting on and impressed with how well we were managing a really hard time for us both. Don’t get me wrong … it wasn’t without its share of tears and yelling, but that did not set the tone of how we managed our separation, nor the years afterwards when we regularly communicated as friends via Skype. My first divorce remains one of the things in my life that I am most proud of, however odd that may sound. It may not have been a great marriage, but it was a great divorce. I don’t think there is any one of our friends or families who would have felt uncomfortable spending time with us together at any point during the past six years.

Of course, I’ve been on the other side of this too … where I’ve seen friends split up. And being a diplomatic Libra, I’ve never liked to feel like I have to take sides. I’ve tried to show support to both parties, even if I’ve felt closer to one rather than the other, and always made it clear that I’ve wanted to be there for them both. If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that it is always best not to take sides.

But I’ve changed my mind. I’ve discovered that there IS a situation where I think it is absolutely necessary to take sides. And that situation is where one person is afraid. Fear is the key factor here.

If one person is afraid then they are likely to have experienced physical, psychological, or emotional abuse. Physical abuse is obviously easier to prove than psychological or emotional, but in any case, all you, as a friend, might have to go on, is one person’s word. And the sound of fear in their voice, or the sight of fear in their eyes. While I hate the word victim, I’m going to call the person who is afraid, the victim. The other person is the bully.

And the reason why you cannot remain neutral and have to take sides between a victim and a bully (even if you honestly don’t know which is which because of course you haven’t seen anything with your own eyes) is because if you do remain neutral, it is the bully who gains. Staying neutral does not help a victim one bit. So if you’re tempted to try to remain neutral, you’re actually adding to the victim’s trauma. They don’t know where to put you as they try to come to terms with what’s happened and later try to put their life back together.

There are three things you can do … one, stay neutral, in which case the bully gains. Two, side with the bully, in which case the bully gains. Three, side with the victim, in which case the victim gains. The only way you can support someone who claims to be afraid, is by believing what they say one hundred percent, and walking your talk on how unacceptable you believe the bully’s behaviour has been, by not being neutral. It really is that black and white. There are no grey areas in this kind of break up.

There’s always the chance that you’ll back the bully by mistake. Bullies can be very good at playing the victim, because bullies (especially psychological bullies) are by nature manipulative. But it doesn’t matter if you make that mistake, because the real victim will grieve the loss of your friendship and then move on. If you realize later that you made a mistake, you can always apologise and have a conversation about it, and hopefully rebuild that friendship, which can perhaps be an even closer one because you have a better understanding of what the victim went through. But these are situations where you need to pick a side. However hard that may be for you, I promise you that it’s been much harder for the victim.

I’d been thinking about this whole “taking sides” concept for a while, and in the past year a few couples I know have separated, so I got the chance to see really how easy it was going to be for me (diplomatic Libra) to support everyone. And I very logically used the “fear” criteria to decide how I would act. With one couple I could see absolutely no indication that either of them were afraid of the other … they were pissed off and hurt, sad and confused, but nobody was afraid. It has been easy for me to continue offering them both love and friendship. But in other situations I have seen and heard fear. So I told the victim that I — without a doubt — believed everything they were saying, “coached” them through reporting incidents that caused fear to the police, made it very clear that they could count on me to support them, and will always do whatever I can to make sure that others know about that bully. Because that’s the thing about bullies … they’re always looking for their next victim.

I would never have come to this conclusion had I not been the victim of a bully myself. Had I not felt very real fear. Had I not had to go through the process of reporting incidents to the police, and ultimately applying for (and getting) an injunction. And if anything positive came out of that experience, it is that I will always believe someone who says they are afraid. And when you’ve been abused, the most important thing you need to hear is that you are believed.

When your dog is coming to the end of their life

Tomorrow, Tommy will have been gone for a month. And I wanted to share some things that might be helpful for other dog owners as they approach their loved one’s later years, and this has turned into my personal story too.

But first, let me offer some advice as to what to say (or not) to someone who is about to lose or has just lost their pet … don’t say “Think of all the good times” because the owner is right in the middle of a really horrible time and those good memories will feel unbearably painful for a while. We live in a world now where pain is to be avoided and really, sometimes we just need to cry and be angry and sad and FEEL pain, before we can move on to the next stage. Secondly, don’t say “they’re in a better place now” because to a dog owner the best place that a dog can possibly be is snuggled right up next to them, with their nose pushed into the collar of your dressing gown.

But what you can say that does actually help is share a memory you have of that person’s pet, or tell a story about losing your own pet. These kinds of words help the grieving owner feel connected to others who understand your grief. And if you’re not a doggy person then just send them love, or say you’re thinking about them, or that you’re sorry. One of the nicest things someone (a very non-dog person) said to me about Tommy was “I have never known a dog that was so loved.” These words continue to touch me, a month on.

Back to the advice for dog owners … I can’t stress enough the role your vet will play in this. The last thing you’re thinking of when you choose a vet for that cute little puppy you just got, is the moment when that puppy leaves you. But it’s important. I realized after the fact that my vet actually has something on their website about being there for you at the end, and I think that says a lot. Vets are not just there to help your pet through life, but also to help your pet through death. And a good one will be there to help you through that too. They will take the time to answer all your questions (and you’ll have many if your pet has a terminal condition), and never make you feel like you’re bothering them. Choose your vet carefully.

Secondly, you won’t know how you’ll feel, at any stage … at that moment when your vet tells you it’s terminal and there’s nothing they can do, at that moment when you know their quality of life has gone, and at that moment when they die. Just go with how you feel. Be prepared for all sorts of feelings and thoughts to come up, perhaps not even related to your pet. I was surprised to find myself flooded with memories of all sorts of unpleasant things that had happened in my life during the past ten years … years when Tommy had been such a comfort. My neighbour told me how she found herself taken back to the time when her son was little, remembering how this excited puppy pulled on the pram. There could be all sorts of memories that arise while you are preparing for your companion to go.

I decided to put much of life on hold during Tommy’s final days, which turned out to be weeks. And I’m sure this is something that has made the past month without him so much easier than I had possibly imagined. I have no regrets because I was there for him in every way possible, feeding him the kinds of things I’d never allowed him to eat before, shooting out of bed to be by his side if he got up in the night, and watching his every move for signs of him being in pain. Some people are different, but for me, I didn’t want to keep him around just for my sake.

The other thing that I believe has made losing him just that bit less painful, is that I didn’t even let him get to the stage where he was in pain. Trying to work out when it was time for him to go was so difficult and consumed my every thought … there are online questionnaires that help you work out whether it’s time for you to say goodbye and I found that a bit helpful. But I still didn’t really know. But when it came down to it, one day I woke up and looked at him, and knew his quality of life had gone. He wasn’t in pain, but he wasn’t enjoying life anymore. And I knew.

I would recommend having your vet come to your home. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking Tommy to the surgery and walking out without him. I didn’t want to have to hide my emotions for the sake of the surgery staff or other clients, and when my vet offered to come to my home it was a huge relief for me. So you know what to expect, this is what happened …

Patrick arrived with a big box of “stuff,” containing syringes and other things. Immediately my heart started racing and in my head I’m going over and over again “Oh fuck oh fuck this is really it now. I can’t believe this is happening” but on the outside staying calm and strong for Tommy. Patrick shaved Tommy’s two front paws, which is where the euthanasia injection was to go, then gave him an injection behind his neck, which was the sedative. Pretty soon Tommy was snuggled in my arms, snoring away, sounding so peaceful and happy. I sat on the floor in the living room, and Sandie wandered around sniffing at the big box. I had heard many times that if you have other pets, it is best that they are in the room when one passes, and Patrick reiterated that. When I was ready, Patrick put a syringe full of pink liquid into Tommy’s front leg, and again after asking me if I was ready, Patrick then pushed the liquid into Tommy’s leg, telling me what he was doing at every moment.

I had thought at that moment I would say something to Tommy, but I didn’t feel the need. I was completely unaware of anybody else in the room and felt totally and utterly focused on and connected to Tommy. The only thing I can liken it to is when you say your wedding vows, when there is nothing else that exists except that you and the other person and that moment. I was vaguely aware of Sandie suddenly stopping her wandering and lying down next to me and Tommy. I realized afterwards that I hadn’t needed to say anything to Tommy because I had spent every night before going to bed telling him how much I loved him and thanking him for being such a wonderful friend. I had said everything I needed to say to him already.

I didn’t even know Tommy had gone until Patrick said something. There had been no dramatic moment, no exhaling, no wee or poo, which I know sometimes happens. There was nothing distressing or traumatic for him. It was like he went to sleep in my arms and I realized that his little body wasn’t moving with the rhythm of his breathing anymore. I smiled at how peaceful and beautiful it was. When I was ready Patrick used his stethoscope to confirm Tommy had passed. And I sat with Tommy in my arms for as long as I wanted, although truly, I could have sat there for days. I didn’t want to let him go. And I still feel like I would do anything just to hold him in my arms again. Just one more time.

But I laid him down on a thick plastic green sheet, which Patrick gently zipped him up in — watching Tommy being zipped up was really the only horrid moment of the whole thing. And then Patrick carried him respectfully out of the house, with his arms out straight in front of him and Tommy resting on top. It’s funny the details you remember. I watched them go before closing the door, and even though tears had been running down my face for the entire time, as soon as I closed the door this huge half-sobbing half-choking noise came out of me. I have never cried like that in my life. It didn’t even sound like crying.

And while all of the above may sound absolutely awful, I am so glad I did it. I was there for Tommy during his very last moments. He spent his last moments right there in my arms, in his home. And if I hadn’t done that, I think it would have been so much more difficult to deal with. I would urge anyone facing this, to be with your loved pet if you feel you can. Yes it will be horrid, but it will be beautiful too.

And I’ve let the tears flow during the past month. Whenever they’ve come. Wherever I am. Market customers who knew Tommy was ill have asked how he is and I’ve told them, and just let the tears run down my face as I tell them. I don’t care. Tommy deserves my tears and I don’t really want people around me who aren’t comfortable with others’ emotions anyway. I can recall four customers in the past month who have stood sobbing in front of my stall as I’ve told them that he’s gone, and I love them for sharing my grief. In his life Tommy gave me so much, and I feel like in his death, he has continued to give … whether it is people I don’t know very well who read my Facebook updates on him with tears running down their faces, or market customers snuffling away with me … I feel like he has given us permission to be sad together, to cry together, to comfort each other.

Tommy’s final gift to me was making me face a fear I have had since he was a puppy … that fear of the day when he would leave me. Not a lot scares me but I’ve always had two real fears … losing Tommy and losing my mum. Both inevitable things … if life follows its natural course then logically I expected Tommy to go before me, and I expect my mum to go before me. Yet I still had so much fear about these two inevitabilities. But when it came to it, I faced Tommy’s death. I did it. I did right by him. And I did it on my own. No partner by my side, no kids, no friends. I faced that fear and I’m no longer afraid of one day doing the same for my mum. Tommy has given me the strength to face grief. And I feel so strong because of that.

And now is the time when I can look back at the good times and the memories of Tommy. Mum and two of my closest friends (Tommy’s “uncles”) spent Easter weekend here with me and Sandie, and Tommy was a major topic of conversation. We laughed at all the terribly naughty things he used to do … one story after another had us in stitches. He was such a bad boy, leaving bits of shredded toilet paper, little pebbles, and chewed up fabric all over the house.

Cleaning the house for the first time after he went was hard … I felt like I was removing all traces of Tommy from my home as the vaccum quickly filled up with dog hair and I wiped the spot on the bathroom floor where he always seemed to slobber. I found the little bit of fur that Patrick had shaved off and put it in a little Japanese dish. I talk to the beautiful wooden box that Tommy’s ashes are in, and know that he is still part of my home. And somehow I doubt that I’ll ever wash my dressing gown again, I sit down every night in it and breathe deeply … there’s a spot on the collar that smells just like him.

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

This domestic violence disclosure scheme is a brilliant idea. I’m sure we will see more people with abusive pasts having to disclose them but in the meantime, if something about that new special someone “doesn’t quite add up” and you find yourself ignoring any red flags, it may be worth doing a little bit of research yourself. Statements submitted to court to apply for non-molestation or occupancy orders (commonly called injunctions) are available on request. Police stations carry records of anyone in that area that has had an injunction against them and will disclose that fact if you are requesting it in order to protect yourself or someone you are concerned about (even if they no longer live in that area). And if you are concerned about possible financial abuse, the Insolvency Register publishes the names of anyone registered as insolvent on their website. All public, free information. Not gossip or rumours, but facts. Listen to your instincts if they’re telling you something isn’t right, and find out for yourself.

Tommy’s back home

I picked up Tommy’s ashes yesterday. They’ve been sitting at the vet’s since three days after he passed on 20th March, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go and get them.

While Tommy’s moment of leaving was ultimately peaceful, beautiful, touching, and far less traumatic or distressing than I ever expected, and the weeks since have been far better than I had imagined, I didn’t want his ashes. I didn’t want them in my home. I wanted HIM.

I wished I’d gone ahead with taxidermy, which was the only thing that had felt right to me, but I didn’t pursue it because everyone I mentioned it to looked so horrified and I always think it’s best to follow the advice of those closest to you during times when your own emotions are so raw. But I really didn’t know what to do.

I looked into memorial glass that incorporates the ashes of a loved one, and even visited a glassblower in Bath last Saturday, and tearfully considered commissioning a piece in black, white, and amber because Tommy was a tri. Maybe I could ask two dear friends to collect Tommy’s ashes and to send the teaspoon needed for the piece, so I wouldn’t have to go anywhere near the ashes myself? But then what would I do with the rest?

And then yesterday, instead of turning left to the supermarket as I’d planned, I found myself turning right, driving to Sidings Vets, walking in and asking for Tommy. His favourite vet peered out from behind a cabinet … the lovely Patrick who helped Tommy go so peacefully. And he said he would bring the ashes outside to me. There he presented me with the most beautifully carved box, something I wasn’t expecting at all. It was perfect, and I instantly knew what I would do. Tommy will stay in there, placed right next to me on the little table next to my favourite spot on the sofa, where he used to snuggle up into my neck.

I’m not the kind of person who likes others to make decisions for me, and I generally know what I want, so it makes me unsettled when I can’t work out what that is. But when you come across people in your life who kind of make a decision for you, especially when the decision is about something really sensitive, and they do what turns out to be EXACTLY the right thing for you, you have found people to treasure. Thank you again, Patrick, and everyone at Sidings, for everything.

Goodbye Tommy

I said goodbye to my darling Tommy today. He passed away peacefully in the living room at home in my arms, with the help of his favourite vet, while his wife held me in her arms, and with Sandie sitting nearby. He was surrounded by love. As he surrounded me for his whole life.

I named Tommy from the Japanese word for friend (tomodachi), because he was going to be my special friend. And what a friend he was. But he was also known as Mr Flupsington, Old Codge, Tommallommakins, Wagger Boy, Doodles (from a song I made up called Flupsie Doodle Day), and Tommy Turdface when he was naughty. Which was often. He was Chief Chewer of cardboard, tissues, toilet paper, ¥10,000 notes, Christmas cards, cushions (only expensive ones), and knickers.

He was my almost constant companion for 12 and a half years. When he was a puppy he sat under my desk in my busy publishing office in Tokyo and joined us in Paddy Foleys on a Friday night. He was even on the cover of one of my magazines. He travelled halfway across the world to live in England, where he perched on the stairs to get a better view of me in the kitchen pickling. His favourite days were when I was making Posh Piccalilli because of all the leftover broccoli stalks he got to chew.

He loved and was loved by many who took care of him when I couldn’t or when I had a long day away from the house. You know who you are. Thank you for all the love you gave him, whether you worked alongside him in Tokyo, or visited me/him in Japan or England. The past year I have seen Tommy become an old doggy and in the past weeks I have been caring for a brave but very poorly boy. I would love to be reminded of the stories people have of the younger, naughtier Tommy. Please post some.

I have been astounded and touched by the care that the Sidings Vets team have shown since the flupsies moved to England, and even more so during the past months. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Patrick and Artaine … to be with people and their pets during the most difficult of times is an incredibly tough job, and you do it so very well. We are so lucky to have found you.

I felt all the stress and struggle leave Tommy’s little body when he passed. I cried, smiled, and even laughed. He looked beautiful. I felt him find peace. But I didn’t feel him LEAVE me. He’s still here. I love you Tommy. Thank you for being my tomodachi.

Tommy … one month on

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.

Modern Love?

I don’t need to meet your mother
I don’t need to raise your kid
I don’t need to hear all about
What your ex-wife did

I don’t need you in my home
To help me pay the rent
I don’t want you asking me
How my cash is spent

You don’t need to do the DIY
I know how to fix a leak
You don’t need to bring me flowers
I buy myself them every week

I don’t need expensive gifts
Or to be taken out for dinner
And I don’t care one little bit
If you think I should be thinner

I don’t want an argument
That gets resolved by kissing
I don’t need you to fill a gap
There’s nothing that I’m missing

I don’t need to see you every day
Or even get a call
I like time alone in my own space
There’s no loneliness at all

But if you want to add to my
Quiet but busy life
I might entertain the thought
But I won’t be your wife

Wedding rings won’t make us stay
Together till the end
How about we just become
Really special friends

You’ll do your thing and I’ll do mine
And sometimes we’ll do things together
But let’s not put the pressure on
By assuming it’s forever

I know I can live happily
Entirely on my own
But sometimes I get so tired
Facing the difficult times alone

I don’t need you in my life
To make my heart go flutter
But if I have a rotten cold
Will you make me soup with bread and butter

Please just help me pack my things
When my mum gets very ill
So I can go and care for her
But know I love you still

And when my dear old doggy dies
Let me wake you in the night
Bring me tissues while I cry
And hug me really tight

Alone is easy when life’s great
Or even when it’s calm
But when the really tough times come
That’s when I’ll need your arm

So hold it out to steady me
Give strength for what I need to do
Just be there like a friend would be
And I’ll do the same for you


Two weeks ago I took Tommy to his favourite vet, for a quick check up before scheduling some dental treatment. Last month during his annual “MOT” I’d been relieved to hear that despite the lymphoma he’d been diagnosed with in October, he was doing really well and probably had a couple of years left in him. But I felt that something wasn’t quite right so wanted to chat with the vet before going ahead with the dental work. My instincts were horribly accurate, and on February 14th, my darling little boy was given one week to live.

I walked home crying with him, and cried for a week. I abandoned the food he’d become increasingly disinterested in and decided to feed him sausages, cheese, raw eggs … all his favourite things for his last week. And I gave him treats at every opportunity. At night I slept on cushions on the floor downstairs next to him, not wanting him to feel distressed and wanting to know the moment he was ready (every dog owner says they tell you when they’re ready), until a wise friend told me to get a baby monitor.

And I tried to imagine what the hell I would do … practically … when he WAS ready … then last Monday, exactly a week later, I thought he was trying to tell me it was time. His eyelids became red, his eyes blue and cloudy, he was uncertain and wobbly on his feet, slept in unusual places, and was difficult to wake up. I took him to the vet and asked if it was time, and went away with eye medicine and no promises. I’d have to see what the next few days would bring. And overnight it was as if Tommy had changed his mind: eating his meals with more enthusiasm than I have seen in months, excited to see his lead because this means a walk around the park which now means a ton of treats, and being greeted first thing in the morning by a happily wagging tail.

Of course, I have always known he wouldn’t be with me forever, but now the time is really here, and he may still go any day now, I can’t imagine life without him. I thought I was waiting for him to be ready, and now I wonder if he’s waiting for me.