2017 was a horrible year, emotionally.
My life was on hold as I watched my beloved brother face a terminal brain tumour. I learnt about love as I observed the devotion of his wonderful wife, and realised how precious life really is.
I discovered how much we as humans can sacrifice for those who we love unconditionally. I saw inner strength rise in this special woman – strength needed so she could tend for every need of my brother.
After eleven months we lost Graeme.
My family gathered from far and near, celebrating his life rather than grieving over his untimely departure.
We have our lives for an indefinite time – what we encounter along the journey can change us. I believe my family have changed in many ways. I definitely am a different person.
Graeme’s fight to live and his disappointment that he didn’t have extra time after the chemo and operation, devastated us all.
In the three weeks that have passed since he left us, I know the truth – he has gone from us, but my acceptance of his going is fleeting, and grief comes and passes.
I have discovered I have a need after his passing that my faith alone can not fill.
I am aware I must begin my life again without my brother being here.
There is always something positive to be gained after such experience if we start looking for it. For me it is the realisation of how deep we as humans are capable of loving one another.
I observed old frictions pass away. New tolerance and empathy replaces what were family antagonisms.
I observed the strength within my family is our ability to love, support, encourage, and stand by each other through difficulties.
Now when returning to my normal life, nothing is quite the same as before.
The sadness, deep reflection continues, and sense of loss will never end.
For me, it is early days.
I did loose my childhood best friend. Graeme made me laugh, as a child he was inquisitive and irrepressibly brave in that he explored the boundaries – often testing our father and needing correction. Running away (not away from home), but away from our father. I still remember him racing around the house with Dad in hot pursuit – a middle aged man wearing heavy work boots chasing his fearless young son.
Did he get the strap? No.
How could our Dad discipline his son in the way we were disciplined in the 1950’s, (corporal punishment), after chasing him around the family home. Especially as the two of them began laughing the further they both ran.
Yes, Graeme made me laugh.
Perhaps it is this that I will miss most – his raw humour, and obvious love for me. His sense of drama and silly actions that made me giggle at him and with him, when we watched his unexpected hi jinx.
This is why I really want a dog.
During the weeks I spent with my family to visit my brother and those who were devoting every free minute to being his care givers, I grew to appreciate the power of family pets.
Especially the affection and dedication to my family by their pet dogs. On many visits through out 2017 I enjoyed the antics of these beautiful creatures. They made me laugh when I became despondent. I felt them nuzzling into me, begging to sit on my knee, resting a head on my lap, demanding my attention in ways I interpret as therapeutic and loving.
People my age are facing many unexpected ailments
Most of us are watching friends and family dying in greater number than ever before.
What better reason is there to have a devoted pet dog in an older persons life.
I want a dog of my own
I have progressively, since my return from where many of my family live, found myself imagining life with a dog at my heels on my evening walks. I imagine it following me from room to room, as wanting to be close to me. I see it exploring my courtyard garden, sniffing out the lizards. I want to play fetch, teach it tricks, and celebrate its’ accomplishments.
It feels right to imagine it reaching up on its’ hind legs, hoping I will sit it on my knees in front of the telly, or sharing my lap with my ipad as I write.