Kassi Martin's Blog
Belly Flopping Into Big Emotions
How are you today?
So - getting right in to it... Today, I've experienced a Loss.
Not a simple straight-forward, one-off kind of Loss. Like walking out of my favourite coffee shop with drink in hand, bumping into a passerby, dropping my cuppa and watching the delicious coffee gurgle off in slow motion towards the gutter kind of loss.
No. That would be completely insignificant in comparison.
This Loss, although in appearance would look like a small parcel, neatly wrapped in brown paper with string and a tight knot to contain 'it all', was in fact, a multifaceted, tummy grinding, red eyed, snotty Loss.
This morning ....Bentley left.
Bentley is a people loving, brave, loyal Chihuahua <3
What an amazing little character he is. Weighing in at around 6 lbs, he can truly impact others with his bright-eyed, sparkling energy and he most definitely has left a Chihuahua shaped hole in my heart. There wasn't a lot of heart left after Sapphi made a cocker spaniel shaped hole in there... and others before him.
Bentley arrived unexpectedly two weeks ago when some of his family went on holiday and the rest were dashing 100 miles up to a big city hospital where new baby had been born with complications - now thriving thankfully.
Bentley has stayed before - last Christmas - and from the moment the snuffly, chatty, cuddly boy was placed in my arms I fell in love with him.
In the first few moments, Bentley tugged hard towards his owner, who dashed off up our path, new baby in mind... then, Bentley graciously looked round at me, said 'Hello again You. What shall we do now?' and so we snuggled up, comforting each other in the darkened lounge as dusk fell, processing the speed of how a day can change direction from expected to totally unexpected...
Two weeks is a long time to reconnect with a warm, furry, body who is loyal, loving, funny, cuddly, strong willed, obstinate, chatty and very good at conveying Needs with eyes and body language... like tearing off to the kitchen, skidding round the corners on laminate flooring at brake-neck speed to stare at the fridge door in case there is any more chicken left and could we just check please?
Last night we were preparing for Bentley to go home. Happy for him to be reunited with his family but so heart sore for us waiting for their car to arrive and whisk him away.
"Shall we take him to Rose Tree Lane for a last walk?" I suggest as dusk falls a little more. All the Hares and evening Birds will be about and Bentley loves the spacious, tree filled area.
"What if they come? We'd have to dash back and it wouldn't be fair on him if we had only just got there," my wise Beloved says...
"You're right..." disappointment fills my chest. I am Clinging & Following, part of the grieving process. Exactly what anyone might expect under the circumstances.
We take it in turns to have him on our laps, loving him so much and also filled with memories of our last dog and those before.
Loss is such a biggie. We all experience Endings in various kinds throughout life, some more painful than others.. That is what I mean about this one being multifaceted. It is deeply layered with many sides to it. Most tend to be, don't you think? In my humble opinion we could each write a PhD on our experience of Losses during our Life time.
The phone rings...
Suddenly we are given a reprieve! Can Bentley be collected tomorrow instead?
Yay!! Yes of course.... great joy fills the room. Bentley joins in unsure of what we are celebrating.
However I notice that I am delighted ...and not so delighted, all at the same time.
I have spent the whole of my day preparing myself for Bentley to go home. My tummy and nervous system tango'd all day long together, creating havoc for me. I kept having flashbacks to the day our old dog died too.
So after all my gripping, emotional tummy pains of The Loss of Bentley Looming, I now had to go through another night and waking early hours with that feeling of dread back in the pit of my stomach as his departure is put off til tomorrow ...AND we get more time together - Yay. How confusing for my nervous system to deal with this happy-sad moment also laced with previous losses.
We could have spent the day so much more happily! We could have been out this evening. Bentley has become accustomed to getting in to the car, no longer trembling with fear but calmly confident that as we sing along badly to The Strumbellas that we would be heading somewhere lovely to be with friendly relatives or walking at Rose Tree Lane - or maybe both if there is time before darkness falls.
...And so I wander around the garden with Bentley before bedtime, visiting the Apple Trees where he likes to sniff and roll around in the cool, fragrant grass. He has a wee under the weeping willow on the other side of the garden where he is convinced a Hedgehog visits every night, but has no evidence of this other than the Smells!
Then Bentley sneezes violently among all the deep pink hawthorne blossoms now strewn around the grass, then carried upstairs to bed (I don't do stairs Kas, I'm not allowed upstairs at home), Big tired sigh as he settles on his Princess & The Pea bed we made him.
I sit up in bed against pillows with the soft cool breeze coming in through the window in our colourful fairy lit bedroom.
Bentley looks so cute in a teeny ball with his huge pointy ears On Guard protecting the house. The greens, pinks and blue fairy lights add colourful speckles to his brown and cream fur as he gently snores.
Then suddenly I awaken... early. Eyes open fast, knowing there is a 'something unpleasant' ahead.. then I remember... Heavy heart. Morning Rituals...
...And then suddenly, in a whirlwind after subdued breakfast and wandering round the dewy garden, Bentley has gone.
Their car arrived and he could hear their voices... he was excited to see them. Leapt in to the back seat happily, tail wagging, 'Where were you?!'
I close the door unable to speak as they thank me.
I stare in at Bentley who is intently staring back at me... staring and staring... I manage to lift my hand up to wave to them unable to say goodbye. I don't want to cry in the street in front of these people whose little dog has stolen my whole Heart. Still staring at me, Bentley and I gaze at each other until the car has reversed and is pulling away.
Aaarggggg....! My tummy and chest fill to capacity with Loss - Again! How many times do we humans have to go through losses? I don't want to do this stuff any more... Is it too late to go backwards, to unlearn, to Not Feeling anything?!
It's so hard.. so sore.
My Beloved is working as a Presiding Officer at a Polling Station from dawn till midnight and is not around to share the pain of this goodbye. He said goodbye to Bentley in the early hours of snuffling snores.
I quickly march barefoot up the hot garden path into our house, eyes burning hotly with tears. I close the door behind me and stare at Sapphi's toys we dug out to share with Bentley... The house feels so empty again. My heart does too.
It doesn't matter that I 'Know' this Grief stuff. I know I am 'clinging & following' and I'd love to push and resist against these big waves of painful emotions.
But I just can't... I don't want to go backwards and not feel - the way I used to 'cope' Before.
I've learned the only way to 'manage' this stuff is to feel it, to know it, to get alongside it, to be in it, with it as it really is, and then it will subside and ease a little.
So I put the kettle on and grab tissues and as I carry a coffee out into the back garden to Sit and Stare, I basically just Belly Flop right into the whole red eyed, snotty Grief of it all and Trust... that I will come back out the other side with a little more of it all resolved than the last time I dived in.