One of my overwhelming panics on “that day” and in the immediate aftermath of losing Milly was that things that were left undone. Things that I had arranged or had planned to do, but now can never be done. Diary entries made but that will be crossed out. The thought of things remaining unfinished filled me with fear.
Not that Milly was ever a to-do list entry, but on particular days where I was feeling like I wasn’t achieving anything I sometimes wrote a list of all of the “things” I had done. This proved to me that I wasn’t completely idle and also, at the end of the day I was able to look back and see tasks ticked off, and feel good about the quantity of things achieved. Walked Milly, fed Milly, changed Milly’s bed were usually completed actions numbers 1, 2 and 3. Seeing those completed lists in my notebook now brings a sad sigh… “that was before…”
These Milly related things were a given part of my everyday. As sure as brushing my own teeth (which also went on the tick list if I felt I needed a particularly big pat on the back) these were just things that were, without doubt, going to be done. The gap I have now in my everyday, in my routine, feels vast. Add in that grief is resulting in little motivation to do much at all, had I been writing a list of things achieved for the past month it would be decidedly short. I know that in time my routine will evolve and my grief will ease, and I’ll start doing more than just the basics. But for now “functioning” is the goal. Remembering that one must always brush one’s teeth…What I didn’t anticipate was how upset I would feel about other things.
I realise now I haven’t explained much yet about what actually happened, and I’m not ready to do that, apart from to say that it was completely out of the blue, unexpected, sudden and desperately desperately quick. We had no warning of what was to happen that morning. It happened, there was nothing the vet could do, we had to let her go. Boom. Life as we knew it completely destroyed in 90 precious minutes.
That said, Milly was a senior and a just 6 weeks short of her 15th birthday. A pretty grand age for a pooch. Not unsurprisingly she was showing some signs of her age. Her eyesight and hearing were both deteriorating, although priority sounds like the biscuit tin opening could still be heard at 100 paces. She had some slight nerve damage in her lower spine, and so her back legs could be a little bit peg-like and she scuffed her toes when she walked. She was still very mobile, but you could see that getting up and down was more of an effort, and traction was a problem. We had made a number of modifications at home to make things easier for her, but I had more planned.
I had also been speaking with one of my most trusted doggie advisors just a few days before about maintenance for an oldie. She had recommended a fantastic animal chiropractor that I was going to call. I was also going to make an appointment with the vet to get her opinion on a few things. Did Milly have arthritis? Should she be on anti-imflammatories or some pain relief? Was she suffering from cognitive impairment / canine dementia? Was her current medication still appropriate?
Unanswered questions, now completely irrelevant of course. But I still feel like I want to know.
Every day actions that are no longer mine to complete.
Unfinished things that will never ever be finished.
Really struggling to reconcile all this in my head.
But in honesty I’m a bit confused as to why I’m finding that so hard because I’m not actually much of a finisher!! I prefer having ideas and starting things, then I get distracted with other things. I have quite a number of unexecuted (but brilliant!) plans and ideas, and an equal number of not quite completed works-in-progress (bit of a theme in our house to be honest). Yet none of the other unfinished things in my life cause me to lose a wink of sleep. Perhaps that is because they are still on the list, and I genuinely believe I will get to them one day.. do them and/or finish them.
I guess now I’m questioning my logic a bit now.
Firstly, if it’s still an idea or just hasn’t been finished, is it really necessary? Maybe I should practice some prioritisation, and firmly relegate to the bin ideas that really are neither urgent nor important.
Secondly, when is “one day”? And what if it gets taken away from you?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to leap in the air and start being a powerhouse of activity, charging through my to-do list with the robot efficiency. But I do recognise that there is an opportunity to just get on and do some things that matter, and permanently bin a number of things that really don’t matter one bit
So that is what I am going to try and do now.
“If it matters then DO IT. If it really doesn’t then just bin it”
Heather Bray 2018