Sunday, 12 August 2018



I am lying in bed, having been in the deepest of sleeps, when I am suddenly woken by the loud ‘bang’ of the front door. I listen as Martin calls out to me in the darkness, and I try to open my eyes to answer him in return, but they just feel so heavy. My whole body seems to be struggling to keep up with what my mind wants it to do these days, but that’s what comes with old age I guess.
When the room finally comes into focus, I’m surprised by how dark it is, the street lamps are alight outside, and they bathe the room in a soft orange glow.
“I must have slept all day again” I think to myself with a sigh “What a waste”.

I struggle to remember when I came upstairs? It must have been early, as one of the last things I remember is being sat on the sofa, looking out of the window at the children from next door as they left for school. They always make a point of waving and calling out to me if they see me, and bring me a gift every Christmas. Such lovely children, it brings me great happiness to watch them play.
Martin would often leave me there before he left for work, comfortably tucked up, where I could happily watch the world go by. He knew I was finding the stairs harder and harder to manage, in fact I’m finding everything harder to manage, not just the stairs. However, there really is no better place to take a nap than your own bed is there?

There have been many times over the recent months, where Martin has returned home and found that I had tried, and failed to quite make it up the stairs, or to the kitchen. Or, something which had become more frequent recently, even the bathroom. I feel the shame burning through my body as I think of the times he had found me, having him clean me, there was no dignity in it, not for either of us. Martin never complained though, not once.

I let out a faint sigh as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirrored wardrobe opposite the bed. It didn’t matter how many times I saw it, the reflection still startles me, I hardly recognise myself anymore. I had been beautiful once, and still was according to Martin, but I know he’s lying. I am old, I am greying, I am too thin and my skin sags. My appearance gives away my age, even if my eyes don't. I try to turn over, no longer wishing to look at myself and be reminded of how fragile I have become, but I wince as I do. My neck is stiff and pains me terribly, and there is a burning sensation all the way down my back. 
I slowly stretch out my tired, aching body, in an attempt to revive my bones, but I cry out in pain. Nothing seems to help me anymore, not even the medication they gave me, it may have stopped the pain for a brief time, but it made me feel so very sick, so we had decided a few days ago that I should stop. When I say ‘we decided’ of course, what I actually mean is that I simply stopped taking it, and Martin had no choice but to go along with my wishes “You’re the boss Mo” he said with a sad smile, knowing full well what the outcome would be.

It must have been hard for him, but it was the right thing to do, for me, not for him perhaps. I know Martin would have carried on, and carried on, he would have done anything, tried anything, but that wouldn’t have been fair, not on either of us.

I hear him then, as he approaches the landing, he must have heard my cry “Mo” he calls out to me panicked “Mo are you up here”? I open my mouth to answer him but nothing comes out, I lick my lips and try again but it’s no use, my throat is just too sore, so I raise my head to greet him instead. Even this very slightest of movements is too much for me today, and I don’t attempt to do anything more, the gesture however,  is enough for him to see me and I watch him steadily as he steps into the room, and turns on the light. My eyes squint against the sudden brightness, and spotting my discomfort he immediately turns it off again “Sorry Mo” he says quickly, and I gratefully lay my head back down on the bed.

I lie and listen to him for a few moments as he moves around the room, throwing his heavy work keys onto the dresser, and pulling open the wardrobe to put away his jacket. Martin would usually potter around downstairs for a bit before coming upstairs to get changed, especially after work. He must have come straight upstairs to find me when he got in, worried when I hadn’t greeted him as I usually do. My brow furrows at the thought, poor Martin, I hate to be a burden to him.

I look up from the bed as he leans down towards me, and take in his brown eyes and mop of still brown hair. Only the creases that appear when he smiled gave away that he’d aged at all, Martin always did have a lovely smile, and it was the kindness in it that drew me to him when we first met. “Hey Mo” he whispers, looking down at me, gently touching the side of my face and placing a kiss on my forehead.  I feel his warmth as he carefully lies down on the bed next to me, wrapping his arms tenderly around me, as if he never wants to let me go.

We stay like that for a while, my eyes are closed but I’m not really sleeping, I just listen to the steady rhythm of his breathing as he softly strokes my head.  “I love you so much” he whispers in my ear, his voice thick with emotion, and I sigh back contentedly. I want to tell him that I love him too, that it’s been a good life, a great life, and I had him to thank for that, but I can’t. My throat is so dry and sore, and I can feel my breathing is becoming more and more difficult, so I don’t reply, but he knows, I know he knows.

Eventually I feel him stir next to me, and he carefully unwraps me from his arms as he sits up “Come on old girl” he says with what we both know is a false gaiety, and lifts me carefully out of the bed. He holds me with such a gentleness, as if I may break, and when his cheek, wet with tears, brushes mine, he buries it in my neck and chokes back a sob.

He smells of soap and warm washing I think happily, he smells like home.

Together, we make our way down the stairs, I keep my head tucked happily in the crook of his arm and let him lead the way. It isn’t long before we get to the front door, and when he opens it, and feel the cool breeze of the evening air on my face, I know instantly where we are going and I am not afraid, I’m ready. Martin knew I was ready, and even if he might not be yet, he must know it’s the right thing to do and so very I’m grateful to him for it.

Slowly we make our way down the gravel path, through the front garden, and to the gate.  I know every nook and cranny of this garden, there are 2 immaculate lawns either side of the path, mown regularly and free from weeds. Trees that provided shade in summer, flowers in the well-kept border that Martin plants lovingly in spring. Fairy lights strung in the window that danced in the darkness, yes, this garden had bought us both lots of happiness.
We pause as we reach the front gate, Martin opens it for us, with its distinctive creak, and I hear a male voice I don’t recognise greet us both. As much as it pains me, even in the dusk, I open my eyes just a touch to see who it is, but I do not recognise the face. It’s a thin, rakish looking fellow, older than Martin and wearing his hair far too long for his age. He must see Martin is struggling however, and he shows his kindness by placing a hand on his shoulder and gives it a firm squeeze. He looks down to me, and gives me a small, sad smile, but I close my eyes and turn away, I do not want his pity.

I hear the click of the car door as it is opened for us, and Martin thank the driver as we both get in the back seat, so polite and I feel my heart swell with pride. I’m not sure how long this particular journey will take, but even the short venture outside has exhausted me, so, I decide to lean my head against his chest and try to sleep. Despite how quiet, and calm he is trying to be, for me or for driver perhaps? I can tell Martin is crying, I can feel his chest jerking beneath me and his heart racing. Despite his own obvious distress though, he spends the journey focusing on me, soothing me, pressing kisses against the top of my head, talking to me. As much as I dislike the sudden movements of the car and the constant buzz of traffic, I feel strangely calm. Although I am grateful when we finally come to a stop.

We aren’t sat for very long, the hum of engine is still going when someone opens the car door for us, it’s not the driver, as I hear Martin thanks him in the front seat as we step outside. That’s when I feel Martins grip on me tighten, and it startles me, I want to be able to reassure him, to tell him it’s OK, but every breath feels like a sharp pain in my chest, and I feel tired, so very tired.
So, I decide to stay cocooned in his arms, hoping he can feel my calmness, hoping that will be enough.

The warmth of the indoors envelopes me as we step inside, and even though my eyes are closed, the light dances across my eyelids. There are so many unfamiliar smells and noises, but yet I know I have been here before.
I focus on Martins gentle voice in my ear. “It’s OK Mo, don’t be afraid” he whispers and I’m not. Although every part of my body is wracked with pain, I am not afraid, I feel peaceful, I feel safe and most of all I feel loved.

We take a seat but it isn’t long before someone approaches us, “Mr Cooper”? A kind, female voice asks, and I feel Martin nod in reply. I sense her movement as she bends down next to me, placing a gentle hand on my back “And you must be Mo” she whispers “Please don’t worry you’re both in good hands” she says standing up, and I like the sound of voice, it’s soothing and soft, and kind.

“When you’re ready would you want to bring Mo through here”? She says to Martin, and I feel his whole-body start to shake, wracked with loud sobs as he holds me closer to his chest.

My poor Martin.

So then, as difficult as it is for me to do, I open my eyes to look up at him, knowing with an absolute certainty that it will be the last time I do. “I love you Mo” he chokes down to me through wet tears and heavy sobs “I love you so much” and I breathe him in one last time. Soap and warm washing I think happily. And then, with a flick of my tail and a contented purr, I close my eyes and go to sleep.

1 comment: