I made the mistake of going to bed last. As I walked to the bathroom I’d normally rub Penny’s head as I passed the sofa. That’s probably how she’d know it was almost bedtime. When I finished I looked to my left, this is where I’d say, “Come on Penny, bedtime.” And she would waddle her way past me and into the bedroom. Pause at the stairs, sometimes needing a few words of encouragement to get up there or simply for a path to be cleared.
It’s those moments. The every day occurrences, the ones that make up your day that you miss so much, that you leave to your mind to commit to memory. So many nights, and I only have this fallible memory of mine to remember that and so much more.
When my nephew was eating his lunch I took a piece of his chicken and gave it to Cordi to eat. She sat up, looking for something… Someone. She went to the table, looking for something. Maybe it was to see if more food had fallen, but my heart tells me she went looking for her sister. Because that’s exactly where Penny would have been. Waiting for something magical to fall from the sky. Or for the awaited, “Clean up!” instruction that signalled whatever had fallen was no fair game. But she wasn’t there. And these moments are another unwelcome reminder. Another trigger.
Every sound that would’ve meant someone was in the kitchen, maybe food is coming. Penny would always be alert. And the paws would follow soon. If she wasn’t sure then she’d stay on the back of the sofa, but her nose would be turned up trying to figure out what was being eaten. She knew when she needed to get up. Whenever someone sat at the table the ears would go up, nose sniffing, on alert…Food? No Pen, just water, nothing you need to get up for. Cordi walked into the kitchen when I was getting water. I think the first time since Penny passed. Hearing the paws on the floor. The expectant looking up for food. Triggered.
We’re worried about what’s going to happen when we have to leave her alone, because she’s never been alone. She went from a household of four dogs, three dogs, to her and Penny. Always Penny. Cordi was bad before, if we’d leave the room it was only a few moments before she came looking for us. Now we make sure we never leave her. That won’t be able to continue for much longer.
I know she appreciates the constant attention, the extra treats, the not having to share anything. But I know if Penny walked through that door Penny would be in her face giving her a million slobbery kisses as Penny growled back. She’d relish giving her a hard time because I know she misses her. I know she loved her sister so much. I see it. I can see how happy and excited she would be. Wagging her tail because her sister was back. I see it. I feel it.
We’re looking at finding her a new friend, even as a foster, so she’s not alone. It’s too soon for me but we have to think of Cordi, we don’t want her to be alone. It’s not fair to her to not have someone. But it’s not just got Cordi. Me too. People are blaming themselves because I’m always sad. That stoic Britishness, gone. I feel everything. I feel it so much. And it hurts.
Finding a dog is proving difficult, the various shelters saying we live to close to a main road, we don’t have a garden, the dog would be better in a home with no other dogs, a myriad of reasons. And then there are those ads for dogs that “need” a home…for a significant fee. Puppy brokers acting under the guise of people trying to rehome the dogs they’ve overbred. They’re the ones responsible for taking Penny. Their greed and callousness breeding dogs that weren’t well, raising them in horrible conditions just so they could make money. They make me sick. How can they claim to care about giving a dog a home when they’re keeping them in cardboard boxes?
And this constant thudding in my head. Exhaustion. Dehydration. The lack of caffeine. Not having Penny to lean against on the sofa, only the cold hard table. The pain does not stop.
Every time we take Cordi out or we come back home, or even go into a different room I keep trying to see if she’s looking for her sister. Does she think she’s just gone somewhere and she’s going to come back? Maybe she’s hiding because she doesn’t want to go outside… She’s never hid for this long before. Maybe I should eat all my food quickly because she’ll suddenly pounce out and take it. Does she think these things? Is she looking for Penny? Because I look for her. And I know she’s not going to be there. But I so very much want her to be.
I don’t know how to not want to look for her.