Expanding the Heart

I am completely surprised to be writing a post today that I genuinely thought would take YEARS to get to. This year has been unspeakably hard. I’ve been up and I’ve been down, I’ve been negative and positive, happy, sad and angry and EVERYTHING in between. Often without warning or triggers, these emotions can flip on a coin. What has been constant throughout this year is the firm understanding that life continues, and even when I didn’t think I could, somehow I’ve faced every day. Granted it will NEVER be the same again. But the sun rises and sets, and the days and weeks pass.

For some people being busy is a good distraction. Some people just need the passage of time. Others, like me, would actually prefer unlimited head space to process and process and process some more, until everything is neatly put to bed.

In recent months I’ve not had as much head space as I feel I need. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive under pressure, and when all the plates need spinning I step up and spin them. But the first thing to slip when work and life takes over is my “processing” time. I’ve been working long hours, trying to stay on top of sleep and fitness, and just trying to get back to being the best that I can be, in as many directions as I can. This has lead to me de-prioritising the processing, which ironically then requires even more processing because I get upset with myself for not doing something that is SO important to me. There just are not enough hours in the day. I’m sure a lot of people feel like that for lots of reasons!

I’m still on the treadmill and I’m still spinning all the plates for a good few more months, but somehow I need to find more time to do the things that I need to do, and say the things I need to say.  New Years resolution in the making perhaps.

I’m not done grieving. Not by a long way, My heart is still aching, and the panic still comes out of nowhere sometimes and knocks me sideways. I think of Milly every single day. I miss her like nothing I’ve ever known. But I have realised that as much as I might want to sometimes, I can’t put life on hold so that I can neatly finish my grieving.

So the grieving will have to carry on alongside the rest of life, and will take as long as it takes.

What I have therefore also realised is that, if I wait until I’m done grieving to move forward, I’ll be old(er) and grey. Meanwhile there is warm sofa and a comfortable home, and a lot of love and kindness that is just going to waste.

I haven’t been “looking” for a dog. I haven’t even considered being ready to have a dog. In fact quite the opposite, I’ve been totally adamant and openly telling people just a month ago that I am absolutely not ready and have no idea when I will be. I wonder now if by doing this – by saying it out loud – I’d inadvertently put the thought in my head and have since been subconsciously challenging my own words.  Probably.  Sounds like the sort of way my brain might work.

Two weeks ago a good friend of mine, who is also a bereaved doggie mummy, and knows exactly where I am at, “shared” a post on Facebook. (I found out afterwards that she just had a “feeling” and nearly tagged me in the post, but didn’t want to upset me so just shared it knowing I would see it anyway!).

The post told the story of a nine year old lurcher girl, who has been patiently waiting in rescue for a home since her owner sadly died in February. Despite all their efforts to re-home her, and having numerous viewings, nobody has offered this lovely girl a home.

I follow plenty of rescues, and have so many dog lovers amongst my friends, that I see rescue posts all the time. I read them all, I onward share many of them, and I always feel sad and hope that the little canine involved finds a home.

But two weeks ago I just felt differently.  I still don’t know how or why, and it was so unexpected, but I did.

I wanted to call the kennels…. and not only that, but after seeing so many shares and comments already on the post, I felt a moment of “oh no but what if I phone and she has gone”. That panic didn’t last long thankfully.. but it was replaced with a smashing wave of GUILT that I could even be considering calling them. I felt AWFUL and completely broke down on Matt. Again.  He consoled me with hugs and words and promises that it wasn’t unkind to Milly, and that it wasn’t trying to replace her.  He even shared with me a long thread from one of the FB groups he’s been following where lots of people were exchanging their feelings on losing a dog, whilst having another, and how they are all loved equally and in their own way.

I went to bed declaring I would “sleep on it”. Tried and tested method in my family for making sound decisions.

When I woke up the guilt had numbed a bit, but I still wanted to call.

Despite the kennels opening at 9 I didn’t phone until almost lunchtime. From the messages I had seen on FB I was just so convinced someone would’ve snapped her up that I wanted to delay hearing that disappointment.

You have probably worked out by now where this is going.
So long story shortened for the first time ever in this blog….

I am pleased to introduce to you Miss Clover Bray


Clover is an absolute sweetie and we think she is settling in well. Over the past 8 days she has test-driven every bed, dog bed and sofa in the house, and seems to approve of them all. Choosing to sleep most of the day, she has little bursts of energy which result in her nose butting you, bowing down and barking for playtime. After 8 years with Milly – who didn’t really know what playing was – this is a completely different and new.

In fact everything is different and new, and I am trying very hard to keep it that way and avoid any sort of comparisons, because that wouldn’t be fair on either Milly or Clover.

At the moment Clover is undoubtedly confused and probably just waiting to be “collected”. She has spent 11 months under the care of Kat and the kennels team, and most recently spent a week at home with Kat and her family (human and canine). The bond between them was so clear, probably because Kat has given Clover so much love and patience, and put so much energy into socialising her and trying to find her a home. We are sorry you guys had to wait so long, but we promise to give Clover the very best of everything that we can. Thank you for everything you have given Clover, and for waiting for us.

Perhaps this is too strange, but I also really want Clover’s owner to know, wherever he is, that she is safe and loved and will be cared for to the best of our ability. I don’t know his circumstances but I cannot imagine facing the end of my life knowing there is nobody to care for my beloved dog after I am gone. Heartbreaking.  We promise to love Clover and give her all the happiness we can, until the bittersweet day comes when she will leave our world to be reunited with you in yours.

It is early days for us all. Clover has a lot of settling in to do. I have a lot of adjusting to do, and am just hoping that the rollercoaster of emotions I am feeling starts to settle down quickly

Clover isn’t Milly, and I wouldn’t want her to be.

I truly love Milly, and love her with my whole heart, and I know that I always always will.

What I also know now is that my heart is really big, and after rebounding some from the massive blow this year has dealt, it has grown bigger still.

My heart is plenty big enough to love two dogs, and I am so pleased that it is Clover who has found us and chosen to be that second dog.

And so with both tears and smiles, our journey continues, another chapter starts and our hearts expand.

And I know now that I have got the strength to see it through.

For Clover

But, like EVERYTHING in my life…..

because Milly… x

Welcome to our family Clover

Custom “Clover” collar lovingly handmade by Dog ‘O Nine Tails on a moments notice before Christmas break xx Thank you so much Lisa xx