For the last 52 days I’ve been trying to avoid writing this. To be fair for the last 52 days I’ve been avoiding a hell of a lot. I’ve been living in this bizarre limbo where everyone is very nice and has very sympathetic looks on their face when I see them and no one really knows what to say – but I don’t know what to say to them either. I’m terrible at small talk. I guess I missed the lessons at birth because, unfortunately, I tend to tell the absolute truth and end up bumming people out.
Well-meaning sympathiser: “So, how are you doing? Kids doing well?”
Socially awkward weirdo: “Oh, yeah totally fine – although I have got this overwhelming sense that there’s no meaning in the universe and my heart has been ripped out of my chest. Yep, kids are great.”
The good news is I’ve had a lot of practise with this conversation over the last 52 days and I’ve managed get it down to the first four words of that sentence. Sorry to anyone who didn’t get the abridged version.
See, the thing is I don’t really know who I am anymore. I had a best friend one day and then she was gone the next. Just like that, and what’s left is this shell of a person who is blindly trying to make it through one day to the next.
I’m not sure if you know this but grief is not like it is in the movies. No, really. I’ve yet to look out a window while rain falls with a moving musical montage swelling in the background. I’m meant to be sad until the key changes then I’ll go rollerblading or something and I’ll be happy again. That’s what’s meant to happen.
However, there are many reasons for why this hasn’t occured:
- I have wonky ankles, can’t stand up on rollerblades or ice skates to save my life.
- No one rollerblades unless they’re in a tampon advert
- I’m beginning to accept my life is not an elaborate ‘Truman Show’ style documentary
Alas, that means I have to grieve like the rest of you plebs and it’s FUCKING AWFUL. I have two little people depending on me and I can’t just fall into a hole – which is unimaginably attractive to me. Also, I don’t know how to get in touch with Hans Zimmer and convince him to compose anything for my breakdown so it seems pointless to have one now.
I suspect when people think of their best friends they think they had the world’s most unique and close friendship, I won’t burst your bubble but screw you, you’re wrong. I did.
For 16 years I had the fiercest, funniest and most loyal friend. She pushed me to write, to run, to love and to have fun. She had flaws, like the rest of us, but it made up part of who she was. There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t been said, and said better, by others already touched by the loss. I know what we meant to each other and that’s the one thing that will give me comfort in the next 52 days and far beyond.
I look at photos of us, I reread messages with her voice in my head, I chat to her when I’m cooking dinner and I tell my husband stories about her for the 100th time – even though he was there when they happened.
Although my close family have been walking on eggshells around me since it happened I don’t think I’ve caused too much trouble – until three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago I brought home a puppy.
Firstly, I am not a dog person; can’t stand them really. I think they’re yappy, needy creatures so you can imagine my family’s surprise when this tiny little canine – about the size of a small rabbit – came sauntering into the house.
I named him Dougal and I’ve fallen in love. He goes where I go and I have become slightly obsessed with taking him into the garden 40 times a day in an attempt to save my living room mat from his pee.
He’s driving everyone mad: husband hates dogs, youngest hates all animals and eldest is being tortured with his ‘playful’ nips. Yet, I’m in love.
Every evening he sits on my chest on top of my bruised and broken heart and sleeps. It’s the most satisfying comfort I’ve felt since all this began. I talk to him when I’m lonely and tell him about my friend, the animal lover, who he’ll never get to meet.
I don’t know what the next 52 days will turn into but I’m hoping this little pocket-sized pooch will get me outside and running again. Something I’ve dreaded even considering without her. I’m aware he’s so ridiculously small I’ll end up carrying him but you never know. Perhaps I was mis-sold this tiny dog and he’ll keep growing into a Great Dane.