Sunday, June 19, 2011

Driving Home

My friend's birthday dinner was nice, with about a twelve people attending. Her mother and sister were there but her mother has early stage dementia and my friend's sister took her mother home early. My friend's Mum remembered Arthur and said he was a lovely man. I appreciated that.

I enjoyed the company and especially I enjoyed talking to another couple who had a Tenterfield Terrier. We spent some time showing each other dog photos on our phones.

I stayed overnight with my friend and her husband. I sometimes did this over the years. I would stay the night because of the laws about driving and drinking alcohol. Arthur would always be glad when I got back. I would ring to say I had had a couple of drinks and would be coming back in the morning. He would get a bit short with me and not be too pleased about it, but when I came back next morning (or sometimes after lunch) he would be at first a bit grumpy. Sometimes I got a bit upset too, but mostly he was just glad to see me. Of course this was before he got sick and needed me to care for him. While he could still get out of bed and look after himself, I would be away for some hours, mostly with my son to do things.

As Arthur became frailer I could only be away for a couple of hours, while the workers were there. I once took a puppy to someone down the coast and was away for about six hours . He was alright, and I had made arrangements with my Mum for her to be on standby if he needed her but everything was alright. I felt bad about leaving him alone for that long. Now I wish I hadn't gone, because I rue any feelings of loneliness that Arthur had. However, Arthur was glad the puppy went to such a lovely home, with an older couple whose old dog had passed away.
In the last months I would just go out while the workers were there, down to the shops. There were even doctor's appointments I never attended, and if any of my family or friends asked me to anything I would say no. I told the Terrier club I could no longer help with fund-raising days anymore and I stayed in the home with Arthur.

This dinner party was the first time I accepted an invitation since 17th May, and it was only because it was from my best friend. Late at night we talked and she revealed to me that her first experience of death was as an eight year old girl when the family doctor's daughter was accidentally run over by her father driving his car out of the driveway, and the doctor committed suicide a few weeks later. Evey decade of her life she lost some-one she knew. I contrasted this with my situation, I told her that as my family is scattered across the country and I didn't have any contact with my extended family, this is the first time anyone close to me has died. I once met Arthur's cousin Dorothy when she visited Australia. We drove all the way to Queensland to see her when she came out to visit her sister Katie, Arthur's favourite cousin. Ten years later we visited England and Arthur's home village. Katie was still living in Queensland near her son, but Dorothy had passed away. I told my friend that was the first time I had stood at the grave of someone I had known in life. That was in 1994.

My friend told me she is impressed at how I am handling this. I told her it is because I am still in shock, still horrified, and I probably have post-traumatic stress. It did help, though, to talk and put it into words. 

On the drive back I took a detour along the seaside road for a while and gave thanks that Arthur got to see the ocean one last time during his stay at the nursing home for respite. I cried as I was driving. I was driving to my Mother's house, I was not driving home to Arthur. I should have been driving home to Arthur, to him being glad for me to come back home, to being greeted by the dogs and Arthur. I was always a bit worried that he would be a bit unhappy but he was always glad to see me. Now there is no-one to care if I come home or not, or to miss me and be happy to see me come in the door. I just wanted to go home to Arthur and I seem to be knowing it will not happen. I do not want to know this.

It is just over one month since Arthur died, and I am getting further in time from when I was with him in life. It is getting longer since I was with him alive and I do not want the time to go, I do not want to be further away from Arthur.

Like today driving back from my friend, I just want to go home.

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