A Child Substitute

DSC_0334I never thought that when it happened, he would fill so many of the gaps in my life…

These were gaps that I didn’t even know I had, but somehow my partner did. He knew that I wanted so badly to be a mother to something and that I had so much love to give. I would make a good mother he said. After the loss of a child in my younger years, a hysterectomy and many further childless years, we had always said that one day we would get a dog. In my mind, the time wasn’t right at all, there was way too much going on and I was working around 50 hours a week in a stressful job.

So a little over five years ago, we were told that our friends Alaskan Malamutes were expecting puppies and that when they arrived, I would have to go and choose one. He felt that the time was right and when I saw them, I knew that it was.
I visited the puppies whenever I could and although they were all lovely, I thought that I couldn’t make up my mind, so I just kept visiting. One in particular would not leave my side, he was not interested in eating with the others when I was there and when I talked to them all, he listened, paying extra attention. He snuggled in tighter and gave wonderful puppy kisses and when I felt that I really should make a decision despite thinking that I would go for a grey and white, I chose him.

I asked the question you see, “Are you going to be my Kato and am I going to be your Mummy?” He placed a small paw upon my knee, instant ownership and gazed into my eyes. I actually caught the moment on camera too and it remains one of my all time favourites in a sea of photographs spanning his short life, all of which I cherish. But I knew that from that moment, there was no other. I had found my baby and he had found me. He was the best gift that I could ever have had.

The thing about having a living, breathing member of your family as a child substitute…

Is that one day, they are suddenly not there and your little comfortable part of life as you know it is suddenly ripped wide open. Laid bare for people to dissect, they say harmful things at their will and whilst you deal with that on top of your grief, you are just expected to get over it.

If you are part of a family then it is not just your own feelings which are left raw and damaged, with your own life with a huge gaping hole, but also that of your loved ones.
The thing about being parents is that there are two lots of grief to understand and deal with. You must try to understand what goes through another broken mind whilst you both try to fix it and figure out how to heal, being careful not to break each other with a misplaced word or emotion is so tough and we often get it wrong.

You cannot wrap yourself up in your own grief, since you are shutting the other one out, so grief is handled in an entirely different way to how you would normally. This is alien to you and you find it hard to deal with.
New, raw emotions appear and you hope that you are both able to peek out of the wreckage together and rebuild after the tornado has hit.

I think that I am getting better, but I still have not stopped talking to him, looking around before I move the chair, so that I don’t catch him, he was almost always at my side. His remains have come home, it makes it a little bit easier since it feels like he is here with us, although I do not yet often feel his spirit although there have been signs of him.

I have dreams which he is sometimes in, some good, some bad but he is somehow different in them slightly. In the last one I was saying that I want to see my son, who I haven’t seen in ages. I am in a hospital awaiting an operation and I am explaining this to the nurse. I hear him run up the stairs and drop his ball outside the door and I open the door, but he is coming in another door, greeting everyone there first as I say, where is my Kato and he is suddenly there. With my Hero’s welcome, my face and hands buried in his wonderful translucent fur again, being smothered in kisses.
Oh how I wish for that welcome again, but I am so very grateful for those five short years that I was his Mummy, I am sure that they made me a better person than before.

A Little bit of Glamour, or Striving for Fabulous

It’s about time that I got glammed up again. I know that things must be getting better after all this time, when I start to think to myself I am feeling the urge to get glammed up. A chance to be Glamorous again. This urge, can last a mere moment, or if I am lucky I will push myself, find something smart to wear and try new make up, so that IF I should venture out somewhere and my weight or shape hasn’t changed then I am sure to know what to wear and not spend hours hunting for the perfect thing. I even thought about doing my nails. And was thinking about a photograph which was taken some years ago now, when I was going out to a function, In my mother in law’s gifted fur coat, good jewellery and make up and a sparkly dress. I showed my partner the photo a few months ago, he asked who it was. Then he remembered the coat and realised. My mother told me that I didn’t look like me. I took that as a kind of compliment, that I had somehow pulled it off being dressed up to the nines.

Ok so I might have to push myself to actually do this again now. I haven’t worn earrings for years and nail varnish for about 4 years, none not even when going out. I bought some, but it has gone off. Hmm, a lot can be said for that comment alone…

You know rather than an old favourite dress, I could try something new or wear something different. I am not used to going out you see, I used to be.  I worked in the events industry for a while, so I was used to being around people and mingling.  Some years ago, we had a different life to the one we had now. We had holidays abroad, went out to events and dinners’ fairly regularly and had a busy social life. I was quite the social butterfly. I am not quite sure what changed it all so drastically, but it stopped, so completely that I began to feel like a fish out of water in such places. I think it was after my last surgery, which changed both my body and my frame of mind.

A Hysterectomy can cause havoc upon your self confidence! Although I always felt as though my life had truly begun, opening up opportunities to enjoy myself in ways that I couldn’t before. My life totally changed. When your life changes in such a way, you are often unrecognisable to yourself, let alone others.

I have not been able to drink like I used to, which is not such a bad thing it’s definitely healthier for me. Although people think that you can’t have so much fun. I guess you see fun in a different light and sober you can‘t see the sense in not knowing how you made it home. I also figured that if I drove myself, then I would always know that particular answer. However, I do still have the occasional few drinks but don‘t get smashed very often. I also have an inbuilt stop button, where suddenly when I have had enough alcohol, I will just stop and drink water. I can’t help it, I get thirsty!

I also figured that I wasn‘t great around loud noise any more, with high blood pressure, a side effect of growing up in our family which arrived before the operation and has not left, I find that the bass or beats pound through my head, raising it to an uncomfortable level leaving the throbbing in my ears and waves of nausea through my body and a headache which can last for hours. So bang goes the nightclub lifestyle or live music events, which is difficult to explain to a family who love it and is full of musicians.

We used to go to nice restaurants, especially when we were away. It is a sad indictment that the first words you learn in a foreign language for your holiday are “Hello, I am Lactose Intolerant, Please No Dairy.” It kinds of restricts you before you even start, at best, the resident chef will make you his project for “interesting new dishes” and at worst, you will suffer as I did in a beautiful chateau in France, where this was ignored and every dish was cooked in Butter. Tasting absolutely amazing, but I couldn’t make it through the meal before running for the bathroom.

Now, our social events usually revolve around a meal with family or friends, usually relaxed and in one or other’s homes. The chance to talk, (we do a lot of that) and I feel that in some ways, even though it may be temporary, we are living slightly vicariously, hearing about other’s fantastic holidays and events and this needs to change.

So although it has been a while, I think that I should make time to find a nice outfit, as though I was going out somewhere fabulous again, prepare myself for the event and do my make up and with it build the confidence to throw myself back out there headlong into the world and all it has to offer.
I think even if I can’t quite pull off Glamorous, then I should at least aim for Fabulous.

The lyrics in my head, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again”