The Passing Of An Old Friend
It is inevitable, I try and tell myself that, at the age I I have now reached that I will carry the burden of many emotional scars. Although some are painful, some are beautiful and I try and treasure them like jewels and wear them with pride – but, in my heart I would rather I didn’t have them at all.
What is curious is that, at the venerable age I have now reached – when I should be comfortable with the knowledge and wisdom that age is supposed to bring, that I dread hurt so much, and am frightened by the pain and how deep it may penetrate. As a child, I looked up to the members of the older generation and they never seemed to show their pain or fear or anxiety – and yet – now that I am one of them I don’t have their resilience or the ability to hide my feelings.
It is November now and I recall a line from a poem that my mother would quote “It’s a struggle to get through November” she would say “so little light”.
And yet this year we have had some brilliant days, and I will walk in the early morning light to the top of the hills, where the land becomes wild and free – shedding blankets of fields, duvets of mist and pillows of woods and trees to the valleys below. And I feel free with the elements and the massive skies above. With the scudding clouds, the wind rushing and the rustlingof the autumnal brown bracken – I shout for there is no one to hear – except for the few huddled ponies – the only other residents of this open hilltop land that I call mine. The light is intense and the immensity of the landscape breathtaking. It lifts my soul and I feel good.
I have an old dog – she has worked this land all around me – she knows every hole in every fence and where to shelter from the wind and how to get home from any direction. She is an old sheepdog, a working dog – abandoned and living in a hedge when I first came to live here, and I took her in saying I would give her a year of easy living. It’s been two years now and we have both enjoyed our time together, but her health is deteriorating and she is now going downhill.
She has one blue eye and one brown. In her blue eye, I see that light, freedom and exileration at the top of the hill and in her deep brown eye – uncertainty, anxiety, pain and heaviness. Tomorrow or the next I will put her down. I will do it as I think she deserves not to suffer. I will call the vet out and he will come and we will put her to sleep at home, in her basket after her usual morning walk and a light breakfast, and just when she settles in for a daytime of heavy sleeping, then the vet will inject her. But he might as well be injecting me – straight into the heart – into the pain of self loathing, anxiety guilt and hurt.