Friday, 24 June 2011

Moving On

I've barely touched my blog since my darling Labrador Bailey passed away four months ago. The reason, quite simply, is that I've been too entrenched in the depths of grief to write anything of any substance.

The impact of losing a much loved pet should never be underestimated. There will no doubt be those who think (thankfully no one has actually said it to me) "it's only a dog". It hurts to even write those words. Bailey was a huge part of my life, my constant companion, my reason for getting up in the morning. He formed a big part of my social life. Through walking him I made friends with fellow dog walkers, some whom I've now known for several years. I started each day with a walk in the countryside, noting the changing of the seasons, chatting with other walkers, having the occasional coffee while we caught up with what's going on in our lives, even getting together for an evening meal in the pub.

I do still occasionally go for a walk, but it's just not the same without him by my side. I imagine him exploring in the woods, running ahead of me on the woodland paths. I know every favourite marking post, every blade of grass of the dark green tufts he used to graze on, the discarded sticks lying where he last chased them, his teeth marks still visible where he'd carried them off into the long grass to chew.

I know in time the overwhelming sadness will ease, and the tears and unbearable thoughts of those final few days will be replaced with memories of happier times of the joy he brought to my life. I just have to go through the grieving process and come out of the other side.

There is now a huge black hole that was once filled with laughter, love and companionship. I go through the motions of each day, making my jewellery, taking photos, listing items for sale in my shop. But everything in my life involves inanimate objects. My life lacks life. My life lacks purpose. My life lacks love.

Bailey's passing also coincided with my son moving out and into his own place.  It had been on the cards for a long time, ever since he returned from university.  What had started out as a temporary base for a few months had turned into 4 years, so it was long overdue. But the two events coinciding meant for the first time in my life I found myself living totally alone.

My son has suggested that I turn a negative into a positive; He reminds me that I am now free to do whatever I want with my life. I wish I could see it like that and run with it, facing the challenges my new life has to offer. The world is indeed my Oyster. But with that freedom comes responsibility... responsibility for my own life, and what I make of it.

Not having Bailey by my side shouldn't make any difference. Not having anyone there to hold my hand shouldn't make any difference. As my very wise son pointed out, all the major events that have happened in my life have been instigated by me. We may feel as if we need someone there to hold our hand, but essentially we are alone. No one can live our life for us. We enter life alone and exit life alone.

Maybe that's my problem. I am now completely free for the first time in my life, and it scares the life out of me. I have spent my entire adult life caring for others, and now all I need to care about is myself.

Freedom is frightening.

Or in the words of Janice Joplin "Freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose"