Blackbird.

I’m pretty sure, dears readers, that I shared with you towards the beginning of 2012 the story of how our rescue dog, Sasha, came to live with us. I think I told you that she was an older dog, about 14, and that her master had slid down the slippery slope into drug addiction, leading to eviction from his house in our street. I probably shared with you that shortly after New Year we became aware that Sasha was sleeping rough at the local park with her master and that the Incredible Hunk had, after hearing the police were looking for the guy, went down and sat with him, and with Sasha. He tried to convince Sasha’s master to hand himself in, but eventually the police came and he went without resistance. The Incredible Hunk said we’d look after Sasha, and so ever since, we have. From sleeping rough to regular meals and lounging on the sofa Sasha’s life has changed hugely. What happened last Wednesday night was unexpected to say the least.

Shortly after Son Number Two and I moved in with the Incredible Hunk, Son Number Two got a rainbow lorikeet named Georgie. When we moved across the country we had to leave behind Son Number Two’s much beloved cat. She was his second cat, the first having been bought six weeks before my Daughter Number One died. Son Number Two’s first cat was his best friend and his four and a half-year old self clung to his little mate in the days, weeks, months and years after his sister died; the two grew up together. Daughter Number Two learnt to walk holding onto Cat Number One’s tail for balance. He slept with Son Number Two every night until the day I was walking my sons to the school bus stop and heard a sickening THUD, just as I turned to see Cat Number One under the wheels of a car. Over the next week Cat Number One fought valiantly to stay with us. I didn’t want him suffering but I begged the Vet, if there was any chance, that he do whatever he could to save him, no matter what the expense. For me he was another link to my Daughter Number One; she had held this cat in her arms, and he was the one who had been by Son Number Two’s side through all the following years.

When Son Number Two broke his arm and had to have a closed reduction in hospital two weeks after Daughter Number One died, as soon as he was home again Cat Number One was by his side. As his Mother flailed about in a grief induced fog, his cat was by his side. As we lost friends and family and picked through the debris of our lives his cat was there. When we relocated far away from the place Daughter Number One died,  Cat Number One came with us. And then he wasn’t there and the hole he left in our lives was enormous. It took over twelve months before I felt Son Number Two was ready to have another cat. One day while he was at school I bought a female manx and she was waiting for him when he got home. She was a bit more aloof than Cat Number One, but Son Number Two adored her and she returned his affections. When we moved across the country, though, she had to be rehomed. On the day the cat rescue lady came to collect her Cat Number Two went missing. We couldn’t find her anywhere, although I was sure she’d not left the house. The lady came at the appointed time, and helped us look, until she eventually had to say she’d go do her grocery shopping and hopefully we’d had found Cat Number Two by the time she returned. Son Number Two and I continued the search, and finally, finally, finally, we found her. She had crawled up inside the bed base of Son Number One’s bed and stayed there, hiding, as if she knew. And Son Number Two sobbed as he held her for the last time and she fought like a demon as we put her in a box. And then she was gone.

Then we left my Son’s siblings, his grandparents, his friends, his school, and everything familiar to him and moved across the country. Shortly after moving in with the Incredible Hunk Son Number Two got Georgie. As are all rainbow lorikeets, Georgie was beautiful. When we lived in the place where Daughter Number One had died we had a tree in the backyard that flocks of rainbow lorikeets would land in and Son Number Two always loved them, so much so a photograph I’d taken of one lived on his bedroom wall. When we relocated, and found rainbow lorikeets were plentiful around our new home too, Son Number Two was still young enough to think that the birds he had loved at the old house had followed him to his new home. So, for me, there was something very symbolic about Georgie coming into our lives after travelling so far to find our way Home.

Last Wednesday night, as we were getting ready to take the Incredible Hunk’s Daughter to horse riding Sasha the rescue dog killed and ate Georgie. It made me think about the animals that share our lives and the important roles they play. The unconditional love they show us. The loyalty. The Incredible Hunk sometimes says in jest that I’m only interested in him to get closer to his two Great Danes. That is not the case, but they are beautiful creatures in every way and it is a privilege to know them. When I am sad they seem to know and will be extra affectionate towards me. Our two little Galahs are favourites of mine with their cheeky personalities. There are reasons animals are used in therapy. I will always believe it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. There are lots of different kinds of love, but for me it all boils down to loving and being loved.  Life is short; love hard.

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