I can’t breathe. I’m doubled over, gasping, trying in vain to catch my breath but sorrow, with its vice like grip, has wrapped itself tightly around my chest and is squeezing the life right out of me.
If you had walked up to me, punched me in the stomach, knocked the wind out of me, I would have been better prepared. I would drop to my knees, clutch my middle and desperately fight for the breath I know would come soon.
But this is unknown. It’s on the inside this pain, this punch and I didn’t see it coming! Blindsided.
Friday 8.45 am.
Eldest Broccoli nudges me earnestly, I am in a state of ‘it’s my day off’ slumber. “There’s a man on the phone says you must speak to him immediately, about the dog”.
I chuckle inwardly about having to talk to a man about a dog.
Its difficult to recall what happened next. The words that stand out are “I’m coming round to seize your animal!”
Whoa, hang on a minute lets back it up there, what just happened!?!?!?
From what I could gather our gorgeous puppy Padfoot, who has only lived with us a week but has transformed our lives, had been allowed into the UK from Ireland too soon. Trading standards deemed his rabies shot to have been given too early and was therefor ineffectual. However the only words I could hear were
” I coming to seize your animal!”
Padfoot lay snoozing at my feet, blissfully unaware.
I was in shock.
“Please don’t take our puppy away” I wailed plaintively before turning to see eldest Broccoli dissolve into floods of tears. She had left college the day before and was all set to take care of our little bundle of fluff while she revised for her exams.
“He’ll be picked up and taken into quarantine in a couple of hour” threatened the man on the phone.
” No he won’t, I yelled back, I’m going to see the vet, phone the breeder, contact DEFRA, get my kids out of school, phone Mr B….,” because I’m falling apart here.
I did all those things to no avail. Padfoot was taken away. My family were drowning in tears and there was nothing I could do.
We went to visit our little chap yesterday, it’s a four hour round trip. He is in quarantine with his brother which is some consolation. The pen is small, concrete and caged. Their wee doesn’t drain away so it was a slightly soggy little thing we cuddled and cried over during our visit.
He’s locked up for six weeks; six hideously long weeks. But we will get him back.
Yesterday I was in shock. I couldn’t get my head around what was happening. My mind was reeling as I tried to make sense of a crazy system, speak with the breeder, comfort my children, care for the puppy and try and convince myself that this wasn’t my fault.
Today the pain kicked in. I can’t stop the tears, I can’t catch my breath. It’s not me I am hurting for, it’s him. On such a glorious day I want him to run round the garden in circles, faster than life. I want him to trample my forget-me-nots and destroy them with joy. I want to him to revel in his freedom as I hope to revel in mine.
Its always tricky feeling so bad on a Sunday, especially if I’m heading to church. Church can break a persons locked up heart faster than a hot knife cuts through chocolate. And it did. And today I’m grateful for that because, for me, that’s a massive step. You see I’ve locked my up heart for many years. Have you? I mean who wouldn’t?
Hearts get trampled on, knocked about, screwed around with and generally beaten up. Quite spectacularly!! So I have striven to protect mine with an impenetrable fortress.
The problem, however, with protecting ones heart is that fortresses are not selective; It takes a lot of effort to let down the drawbridge. Consequently this little heart of mine has felt nothing for quite some time.
Then Padfoot came along. Even before he arrived I knew my heart was softening. I have resisted getting a dog for years. No matter how much the younger Broccolis pleaded, I was not budging. Or so I thought. But recently I’ve allowed chinks to appear in my hearts armour and it feels okay. I’ve begun to venture out and form new friendships, I’ve dared to let people in; I’ve even begun to let myself feel. I even fell in love with a dog!
And now he’s been snatched away and my heart is weeping.
Its been a long day and a long time catching that breathe but catch it I did and do you know what I realised?
I’m doing okay.
Because I realise it’s okay to not be okay.
It’s okay to not be okay!
As our puppy was being taken away to the pound my wonderful mum, with her own heart breaking, told us
” Take a deep breath, dry your eyes and just think of when he comes back.”
” No” responded eldest Broccoli ” it’s okay for us to feel sad.”
I couldn’t help but smile through my tears and my battered heart swelled with pride because she’s so right. When we can’t catch our breath, when the world has beaten us to our knees, when our own strength has gone, that’s when others step in. Because we aren’t on our own and faking it isn’t worth it; it makes for a very lonely life.
So thank you friends for picking me up today, for allowing me to not be okay. Because by doing so you’ve made me realise….
it’s going to be okay !