I haven´t been able to paint for the last few days. I felt unsettled, irritable, a nagging, unpleasant feeling, and I reached for my trusty box of distractions. Out came the compulsion to go shopping for the new TV that I don´t really need, a sudden blast of resentment towards a neighbour whose actions hadn't bothered me at all the previous week. I frantically re-arranged furniture in a burst of activity to get things exactly right at home, although there was nothing wrong with how they were. Life felt like a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces seem to fit.
Fear lay in the pit of my stomach, unacknowledged, sending uneasy ripples through my life. Unexpressed, underlying fear. Such a powerful, destructive, overwhelming yet subtle force and the source of so much pain and negativity in the world. My thinking mind was trying to calm the turbulent sea of emotions, but it didn´t work. Fear built up inside until my thoughts were so foggy I couldn´t think, blocked from doing anything but sit and tell myself that I should be doing something.
It was almost unbearable to say out loud that my beloved Bonny was walking like a frail old lady, getting weaker by the day, losing weight. She didn´t want to play or even eat, which was always one of her favourite things. I didn´t want to tell anyone that I was putting off taking her to the vet because I was so frightened of bad news, of losing my unconditionally loving companion, my faithful friend. Not so much frightened of losing her because I love her, and didn´t want her to suffer. I was more frightened that the feelings of loss would overwhelm me and I wouldn´t be able to cope.
I made the dreaded appointment with the vet and gentle Bonny died peacefully on Tuesday. As I write, my tears are streaming and I am grey with grief. Thankfully, life brings all the help, support and love we need when the door is open.The last couple of days have been brimming with love, kindness, time given freely to me by my family and friends who love me enough to be unafraid of my sorrow. I am still fearful of being overwhelmed by a tsunami of emotions I can´t handle , but every time I tell someone how I feel, the fear diminishes.
I am conscious that every thought has the power to trigger an emotional earthquake. What will I do alone on a winter´s evening without Bonny beside me? How will I walk on the beach now without throwing her ball into the sea and watching her swim? Twelve-year-old Westies aren´t supposed to swim like a fish, but nobody told Bonny that. Who will warn me about the postman, or reprimand the naughty birds who dare to fly past my window? Who will always be there for me unconditionally adoring, happy and content in my company?
I choose firmly not to focus on such fearful thoughts which will inevitably trigger despair. I´ll opt instead to run with the antidote: faith. Faith that this heartbreak will heal, and that Bonny is running free across warm summer meadows, chasing her ball, spotting a mischievous butterfly, pausing, as always, to look back and check on me.
I walked at Knowlton today, and I hung her collar in remembrance on the branches of the ancient Yew, the Wishing Tree, thankful with all my heart that Bonny chose me.
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