This is one of those posts I have refused to face. I know I have to do it, as I did for Alfie. Back in February, we lost our favourite old bear – our old boxer dog, Alfie. Last month, we lost Jack.
Its one of those emotional car wrecks that few can understand. Grief affects everyone, and in different ways. They told me to write about it, it’s a cathartic process. They said it will help. They say there are five distinct stages of grief, acceptance is the worst. It means making room in your life for the change, and for the loss. It means knowing you’ll never get to share Marmite on toast with him again.
We got Jack when I was 12 years old, 3 weeks before I turned 13. Words cannot delineate our relationship in those ten years from childhood to adulthood. Everyone who met me was greeted with a photo of Baby Jack, my hero.
What Baby Jack Taught Me
1. Abandonment issues don’t last forever, but they can’t be solved with a biscuit.
Whenever I used to come home from university – he would shun my general existence. Not so long ago, I came home and tried one of my favourite tactics – bribery, the kind that involves a bourbon biscuit. He took the biscuit, then turned away from me. Eventually he would forgive me.
2. We don’t all have to play ball.
Alfie always used to squeak toys until they lost their sound, Jack was much less high maintenance. He didn’t really understand balls, he would carry one around if you bought him one and then go to sleep. Sometimes quiet is good.
3. Bad moods affect everyone.
Jack would growl, Alfie would retreat behind the sofa until the mood passed.
4. Unlikely friendships.
In his final months after Alfie left us, Jack developed a friendship with our cat, Kitty. They seemed to tolerate each other, and kept each other peaceful when everyone was at work. He also used to terrify our local Royal Mail workers. The postman cried the final morning.
5. Dogs get jealous too.
When Alfie would be sick or if something was wrong, Jack would limp. He would hold his paw up and forget which paw he pretended was injured and limp on the wrong one. When the puppies arrived, he stood in front of me to show no matter how many times I’d left him, he was my best friend too.
I won’t tell his story of his last week, but I will recount his strength and unrelenting bravery in those final 24 hours. And the wag of his tail he managed only for me when I came home for him on that last morning before we had to make that decision. The last Kit Kat he ate. Those last few seconds he put his head on my shoulder. I saw him fade away, I saw him at ease. Those last moments haunt you, if you have never experienced it then I hope you’ll never have to. But I am glad to have been with him, to come back for him one last time.
I’ll hold your collar every morning. I’ll remember your grumpy face. I’ll write this tribute for you.
Marmite on toast, it will never be the same. I hope there’s someone to share it with up there.