Monday, May 21, 2007

Dreaded day

Ever since Saibh died, I’ve been dreading today. Over the past three and a half years, more or less, she was my constant companion—wherever I was, she was close by. I’ve always had a bed for her in my office, and she spent most of her day sleeping in it. Even when I wasn’t in the room, I’d see her in her bed whenever I walked past the door.

The space is empty now. For the first time ever, I’m completely alone in the house. I have the TV switched on, a bit louder than is necessary, just so the house doesn’t feel so empty and I don’t feel so alone.

Today is also heavily overcast with rain expected. That doesn’t help. But despite everything, we’re basically doing okay.

I’m past the initial shock now, and even moving past the guilt. When she died, I thought if I hadn’t opened the doors that day, she’d never have known that dog was out there, or if I hadn’t gone out to bring her in, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten that extra bit excited that was needed to cause the heart attack. But neither her behaviour nor mine was unusual in any way, and, as Nigel pointed out, if it hadn’t been that dog on that day, it would have been another, and maybe on a day when I wasn’t there with her.

The vet speculated that she had a congenital heart defect and, if so, she was sort of on borrowed time. We now know that many of the animals from that breeder had severe problems—physical or mental—often leaving their owners with no choice but to put them down. We never had any of that (Saibh was from an earlier generation from that breeder, well before the problems became known). And, Saibh never suffered.

So, time, along with some clearer thinking, has helped somewhat.

But what’s also helped immensely is the huge amount of support we’ve gotten. On Saturday we took a road trip to Nigel’s sister’s house in
Thames, and she organised for more of the family to come round for lunch. They’d all signed a sympathy card for us, and gave us a couple scented candles. It was a loving gesture that meant a lot to us.

We’ve also had support from family and friends by phone and email, and my friend
Jason did his own memorial post on Saibh.

What has astounded me, however, is the fantastic support from my new friends I’ve met through this blog and my podcast. There were the comments on my blog post about Saibh, as well as sympathy from my friend group on Twitter. And there have been emails, too. Many people have shared their own stories of a lost beloved companion animal, and that’s comforting, too.

In many ways, what this has shown me is that the specific technology isn’t the point of the Internet, but instead, it’s still the human connections that matter most. There are people I’ve become friends with who I never would’ve met without this blog or my podcast, but despite the unlikeliness of it all, we’ve connected and shared parts of our lives. Long may that continue.

Which brings me back to Saibh. It was chance that brought her into our lives, and chance that took her away from us. We’re still deeply sad that she’s gone, and I’m sure there are still more tears to be shed. But for the first time since Friday, I can appreciate what she brought to our lives, and what all the human connections still bring.

Thank you to all of you who left comments or offered support in other ways. We truly appreciate it. We’re working through our grief and we’ll come out on the other side in time. Thank you all for helping to make that path a little bit easier.

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