Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I drove the five hundred miles, on almost empty roads, through sunshine and rain. People were talking on the radio, speaking words on which I could not concentrate. The language came in and out, like static, making little sense. I thought of my dad and my dog. I cried first at Nailsworth, then just north of Evesham, south of Shap, west of Forfar. For the very first time in fourteen years, I did not give a whoop of joy as I passed the Welcome to Scotland sign. The closer I got to home, the slower I drove. Normally, I hurl the car over the Cairn of Mount, giddy with the delight of homecoming. Today, I was torn between the imperative to get back to my poor, bereft Pigeon, and the slow reluctance to find a house without a familiar presence in it.
Last time I drove this road, I came over the hill in bright March sunshine. I stopped to let both dogs out to smell the heather. This time, I stopped in the exact same place, and stood alone, remembering. The heather had been burnt, and the singed remnants of it stood starkly against a low, misty sky.
When I got home, the entire family was waiting, gathering round, tight with affection. I made a pesto for the Younger Niece.
'Are you sure you want to do that?' she said.
'Yes,' I said. 'Cooking for the family is a consoling thing.'
Finally, I left them all and went back to my house. It is very, very quiet. The Pigeon is lying, curled tight, quite silent, on the sofa. The soft crackle of rain is coming through the window.
I read all the extraordinary comments that you have left on these blogs over the last few days. I am quite overwhelmed by the kindness and goodness. It is hard to express without falling into sentiment how much those words on the screen touch my heart.
An old friend calls. We talk for a while. I summon some gallows humour, slightly surprised I still know how, rather relieved that I do. I think: as long as I have still got my sense of humour, I shall prevail.
'Is there anything I can do?' he says.
'I will just need to hear your dear voice,' I said. 'From time to time.'
I said: 'I know it sounds like a Hallmark card, but the thing all this makes me realise is that the only thing that matters is that there is love. I need the old love, the good love.'
He is another of the ones who has been there for twenty-five years, the ones on whom I can rely without question.
I think: I will just go very, very slowly.
Today's pictures -
The road home:
The green things in the garden:
My little Pigeon:
The Younger Niece said: 'Oh, she is very piano. She knows.'
I don't know very much about how death works in the mind of a dog. Lost as I am in profound love for my canines, I try to resist anthropomorphism, not always with wild success. I have a strange feeling that it is important for their dignity that I remember they are not humans.
But I think she knows.