Long time no post.
And I really wish I had a great reason, a meaningful reason. But I don’t. I’ve basically just been too busy at work since about October to find a spare hour in the week, let alone the usual 3 or 4 it takes me to prepare a post. I still have several years of Milly’s tale to tell, and have my original handwritten notes where I jotted down the few headlines that sprang to mind when I first decided to start the blog. I am still committed to finishing her story and to sharing her with the world but, full disclosure, I just don’t feel like story telling today.
I don’t feel like much today. I feel kinda weird.
Why? Well today is 15th February… and marks exactly 1 year since I lost my beautiful girl.
Although the weeks and months have been flying past at a rapid rate, today hasn’t wholly crept up on me. I have seen it approaching for a few weeks, and have been thinking hard about how I would spend the day. I had always thought I would take the day off, although with no concrete plan as to what I would do with my time. Given that I’ve been putting in 60 hour working weeks for what feels like forever, and have several more weeks of this to come, it actually felt a bit counter-productive to take leave today. I’ve been regularly waking up in the night thinking about accounting infrastructures, and spreadsheets with formulae to make your eyes water, so it was always highly unlikely that I’d be able to switch off today.
As well as having just far too much on my plate, I also really struggled to think of what I wanted to do to mark this first anniversary.
Go to Milly’s favourite place? Nope. She didn’t have one because we couldn’t really go anywhere.
Eat Milly’s favourite dinner? Tempting. Who doesn’t love sausages and mash.
Spend the day looking at photo’s and remembering? That’s pretty standard for a good portion of every day. Most of you probably see my daily instagram posts.. I’m still working my way though a 3000+ strong photo collection.
My only other option was to get my tattoo. Only slight flaw in that plan is I haven’t fully decided what I want or where, and even if I had, I am 100% allergic to the mere suggestion of pain of any kind (pain = fainting). So it would probably have to be in the form of a transfer or a sticker anyway. Not worth taking a day off to draw on yourself with a felt-tip.
So when it came to it I decided just to have a mostly normal day. Whilst that may sound dull, or not very significant, it does actually make sense. Milly needed normal. She needed routine. Her world was small, as I’ve described before, and this gave her the security and comfort she needed to be ok. Anything too far outside of her normal just caused stress and anxiety.
In her later years Milly’s normal looked a lot like this
So today largely became just another Friday. Matt and I went to spin class at 6:30, and by 8am I was settled down in my office with a massive mug of coffee and an overflowing inbox. This morning was pretty uneventful, although at about 9:15 I had my first meltdown. Sadness and grief and just sheer disbelief. A year. A whole year. Three hundred and sixty five days since Milly slipped out of this world. HOW has that time passed? And how much do I just MISS HER?
After the morning’s calls and a few hours staring at the screen Clover and I set off for some fresh air. We walked Milly’s circuit today… the same route, the same direction, crossing at exactly the right spots. The only major difference was on bumping into Tia (our Choc Lab neighbour) out for her lunchtime stomp, Clover and I just stood back at a few metres distance and let her pass with one little excited shout, rather than tearing the other way out of the field like Usain Bolt. It’s taking me some time to adjust to this new level of canine tolerance.
Whilst Clover was largely oblivious to the meaning of today, and embarked on our walk with the usual exuberance of a bull lurcher – deploying launch control to achieve record breaking 0-60 after every pause, and executing turf destroying wheelspins at every opportunity – I was struggling. The weather was glorious. Blue sky, sunny and mild – it felt like a spring day – which can usually lift anyone after the long dark days of the winter. January has felt long indeed and after days and days stuck on conference calls, it was nice to see some daylight. Sunshine on your skin can’t help but make you smile. Balancing that out was the fact that I just felt sad. I’m not sure if my eyes watered the whole way round from the bright sunlight or from the overwhelming emotion.
Throughout today I received several messages of kindness and support. Starting 3 minutes after my alarm, with a Whatspp at 5:43am (someone has clearly been up half the night with their new puppy!), I’ve had a constant flow of people checking up on me and showing me their love. It has been much needed and very appreciated. 15.02 is a date I will never ever forget, but I wasn’t expecting so many other people to remember it too.
Despite not taking leave, I was intending to shirk a bit this afternoon and have a little bit of down time, but as seems to be fairly routine at the moment I got stuck into something meaty after lunch and the next thing I knew Clover was off charging round the house with a Ted to greet Matt seconds after she heard his key in the door. 5pm came and went, and I finally pushed my mouse aside at about half 7. Still got a bucket load of work to do but that will have to wait until tomorrow or Sunday somewhen.
There is no doubt that Clover has brought some sunshine back into our lives, and it would be unfair not to include her in today’s story. She is proving to be a very sweet and loving companion, and is taking care of me in a way I hope Milly would approve of.
Clover has some similar traits to Milly, but in many ways is very different. Both the similarities and the differences are bringing us much needed smiles every day. It’s incredible how very grey things can get before you even realise.
One of the added benefits of a cloudless sunny day today is an uninhibited view of the night sky. Where we are in the South of England it’s not always easy to enjoy a clear night – so much light pollution from the airports and the motorway and just the towns generally. Darkness is one of the things I like most about getting away to the countryside.
Weather-wise Thursday 15th February 2018 was a day very like today. Blue sky day and a clear night. I think I can remember that now, although at the actual time ANYTHING could’ve happened in the universe that day and I wouldn’t have noticed. My universe had collapsed at 9am and I was deeply in a shock state that lasted for days and days.
One of the reasons I know for a fact it was a clear night is because on Friday the 16th February my mum told me what she has seen on looking out of the bedroom window on the Thursday night. Low in the sky straight ahead was a very bright star. A star actually SO bright that my mum was convinced it must’ve been a planet, and duly went to get the iPad to look it up. After a quick check on Astronomy Now you can imagine how emotional she felt when she discovered it was not a planet, but a star.
A star called Sirius. Also known as The Dog Star. And genuinely, truly, scientifically, factually THE brightest star in the sky.
Forgiving my terrible photography (how ever do you take a photo of a photoframe without a disastrous glare?) this is a favourite piece of artwork added to our memories collection in the last few months.
Quite hard to see, but Sirius truly is the LARGEST star on the star map. I also particularly like it because the moon is nowhere to be seen.
Tonight again, one year on, Sirius is shining bright and moving from east to west across the southern sky.
The Brightest Star. The Dog Star. Milly’s Star.
Please look out for it if you are out and about tonight, and give her a little smile. Let her know she is not forgotten. Not by me, but not by anyone.
because Milly… xx
I have been thinking of you all day. And this marks a year of me reading your blogs. Not quite a year for me since loosing Scruff, but I do fully understand how loosing your best friend changes your world. You’ve done Milly proud with your eleoquent writing. I’m sure Milly would approve that Clover has joined you now to share the love of a truly devoted dog Mummy. Xxx