I 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.