“Do you remember those husky dogs we saw running wild a while back, Rich? Loads of them… Where was that?”
“That holiday in Devon. Remember we were walking back from a pub lunch along some trail. The kids went back on the other track…”
This was on Sunday morning. In bed. I lay there in the half dark feeling like my breath had been stolen. Wrenched from me by being unexpectedly pitched into a memory I hadn’t meant to seek out. That long ago? Really?
I remembered the rain, the fresh air, the fun, the boredom, the lack of sun. I remembered us all just being. Chittering, bickering, bantering and loving. Hanging out. Chunky Stan took to swimming in the sea having been resolutely opposed to getting wet until then. I told Rosie off for using my umbrella to collect sea water for a sandcastle she built with Tom in between showers. We had fish and chips in Appledore and chuckled a few years later when we watched a documentary about The Jacksons house hunting there. And we squeezed into the little living room to watch the Olympics when it was simply too wet to go out.
Lying there I felt intense grief. I call it grief but that’s just a label. A word. I felt an intense agony, a feeling impossible to describe. There are no words. I’d forgotten about that pub lunch. About the walk back when we watched the kids running along, in the distance. How they made sure LB kept up. And the huskies that randomly overtook us. Making a bolt for freedom.
I missed LB so much I wondered how I would ever get up again.
I think about him constantly, in a sort of ‘careful’ or maybe self managed way. I have a whole set of (almost) distractions and strategies to make living bearable. This was unguarded thinking. Laying bare the reality of living after the death of a cub. One who died in the careless and relentlessly brutal hands of the state.
Being thrown momentarily back into that space made me realise how I’ve got used to living with pain over the last two and a half years. A pain made so much worse by the actions of Sloven, Oxfordshire County Council and now NHS England. The health, social care, commissioning triumvirate. Taking it in turns to kick the boot in. There’s still no publication date for the Mazars death review. Delay, after delay, after delay. Any talk of candour or transparency, of listening to families, of mortality review functions, of a shiny new independent (NHS) investigative body just makes me want to weep. And rage.
‘Stop talking shit,’ my brain snarls. ‘Just stop making it so much worse.’
I had an email from the police this afternoon. An email that was thoughtful, straightforward and kind. No messing, no prevarication. Just human.
Like those Devon days.