What a emotional few weeks this family have had. For those who follow us on Instagram or FB you probably would have seen that last
week we lost our Border Collie of 13 years.
It was heartbreaking to say the least and I was shocked at the amount of grief it gave to not only myself but our family and friends that all knew and loved him.
I had got Toby just after my 20th birthday and we had just finished a production of ‘twelfth night’ . He was an impulse reaction to filling up a void that is left when finishing a highly emotional and lovely experience… the show come down. You miss everyone and are generally miserable AF for a month afterwards.
Anyway Toby came along (suitably named after a character in the show) and well… he became a side kick to me and many from then on.
Never did I stop to think about that in years to come a family would grow around him. He would endure the period in his life where 3 little bundles were brought home and presented to him. His walks would become less frequent, he would have to learn to deal with being pulled , pushed and forced to wear capes, sparkling hats and learn to balance himself on a trampoline. His hearing would be put through the paces of piercing screaming and shrieking of children playing or the reality of newly diagnosed autism beginning to show itself through a very frustrated little boy who could not communicate or function at the time.
That is where the dam dog showed his real colours. He just never ever left that kids side, or the ones that came after. But for Byron especially, it was as if that was the real reason he was there. To be his companion and friend. To show him unconditional love and support and to bear the brunt of whatever emotion he was going through at the time. He calmed and soothed him. He became what’s now commonly know as a therapy dog.
For our kids… well they have never known life without him.
And so with the loss of this family member the whole range of grief was nevertheless going to show itself through each of us.
While my husband basically lived the last scene in Marley and Me at the vets, I was picking up Byron with the girls from school. We had already had an emotional day. He wasn’t well and both Jim and I knew that today was the last sunrise our pooch would see. My dad came over to say goodbye and that really brought the reality of the situation to us. It was heartbreaking to see your dad crying as he hugged him before he left. I hadn’t seen him that upset since … well I actually can’t really remember.
B knew that Toby was sick and I had prepared him before he went to school about what may happen and he was just quiet. Sat with Toby while eating his breakfast and quietly got ready for school. When he got back in the car at the pick up spot, I guess my face showed it all and he just began to cry.
So I don’t have a pet any more ?
So where did Toby actually go?
When is he coming back?
What does died mean?
Was he in pain?
Can I see him?
Why are you sad?
Where is he right now?
Holy fuck… you think you would know the answers to this. But you don’t. When a child earnestly asks you , you don’t have the automatic response you even tell yourself. You just sit there stumped. If I’m going to be super honest, I avoid asking myself these questions. How can I give a good enough response to a child. My child. Crap crap crap!
I kept coming back to the response of.. he is at rest now and happy in heaven. WTF Jess!
Anyway as the night went on , Jim and I had some quiet drinks out the back and went through the emotions of the day together. I cried and swearingly responded to concerned texts of friends . Jim penned and strongly worded yet heartfelt letter to Chris Martin about the potential of conscious uncoupling from his music for a while as it had been sound tracking the highs and lows in his life for the past few years and he couldn’t take it any more. ( imagine if it was Nickleback babe?!)
The kids were just quiet. They wouldn’t come outside, talk or play. Just quiet. Everyone with kids knows this is never a good sign.
The next few days rolled on and B especially had random bursts of genuine tears and pain. At one point I found him in his wardrobe crying and when I asked why he was in there the response was… I didn’t want to upset you or Evie, mum.
Then there was anger shown as his younger sister began to question where he went? Where Toby BYNon? Where he go?
To which the reply was ‘He is dead Evie and he is never ever coming back!’
All natural emotions according to google and every blog I managed to read on the subject but you still can’t quite handle it like Owen Wilson as much as you try.
It is starting to ease but the questions are still coming out at unexpected times. The main one is: What is heaven?
So… not being a believer or non believer.. I honestly don’t have answer of conviction to give. For now we are simply saying it’s a place some people believe you go to when you pass on. It’s up to you when you are older to decide what you think.
Bloody hell… we give you Santa and the Easter bunny but when it comes to this stuff… I can’t press on something to my kids until they are older enough to make up their own mind. And don’t get me wrong, I respect all beliefs because I love people. Everyone has a right to have faith. I’m just a bit Switzerland about it at this period of my life.
BUT…with all these hard hitting questions being fired, we are eternally grateful that we are indeed having these asked of us AND are able to have a conversation with our son. It was all part of the life we dreamed of at that period in our lives where he didn’t talk at all. He can now express himself, share his emotions and ask any questions he needs to. They even had a sharing circle at school on the Monday about the loss of pets, which according to him was really good.
So yes…. with this loss and any loss you really do face an array of unexpected feelings questions and contemplation on life in general and children are a sure fire way to have you absolutely lost for words for good and the bad.
I have found B just coming up and hugging ME and saying ‘you will be ok mum.’ It just leaves me speechless.
2 days ago we decided to chuck the dummy’s out for Evie and make her go cold turkey. This is basically the equivalent of someone coming down off crack at the moment. It’s an Australian Horror Story in its finest form. She has been foul to say the least. And with Zuzus first 2 little can openers popping through , a teething baby and toddler coming down from dummydiction has been shit house to put it bluntly.
I actually hit myself for saying it but yesterday when she asked ‘where did my dummies go?’ I replied that Toby took them and is keeping them safe. She just stopped then gently replied ‘Ok then mummy’ (cue single tear sliding down the cheek)
But I said it. I used it. I blamed the dog. I brought up the subject that I can’t completely justify yet and I hoped to hell it worked.
Surprisingly so far so good. She is getting there. And Toby, buddy, if you are up there, or around, or can hear me. Thanks for taking this last one for the team. Even after your passing, you saved the day and solved yet another parenting problem!
RIP darling xxx