of love and death and dogs

You feel a frighteningly alien type of happiness as you walk through the airport, the passport check and out to the bus stop.

This in spite of the unsettling dispute between passengers which occurs around you. A man sitting at the end of your row had snapped at a timid looking middle-aged lady for committing a clumsy faux pas in trying to move ahead of him as he removed his luggage from the overhead locker. She looked upset, told her husband when they finally reunited, and he confronted the man while he waited for his family outside the toilets. Voices were raised as you moved away, torn, peering back over your shoulder.

You see him now on the car park bus, looking mildly ruffled but not sporting any bloodied nose. You hadn’t missed seeing a fight.

The bus deposits you by the glorified key collection portakabin and you move towards the main door in advance, ready to jump out first, ahead of everyone else. Glory! The sun shines. You get into the car and begin to drive, touching hands across the handbrake.

Bright blue British summertime skies on crossing the Severn Bridge back into Wales. It heralds a sense of hope and optimism and gentle careful maybe. Although in the background lingers an unspoken mild fear of lurking menace, a dark corrective, a toll to pay because you don’t, you can’t, deserve this. Can you?

She stays at yours that night and leaves to drive home the next day. The strong warmth and sunshine and good feeling persists. Your client’s idiocy is easier to brush off, you don’t bother calling him. He’s typically grasped the wrong end of the stick by email. Or the wrong stick entirely. Fuck him.

You go out for a short walk, listening to two new albums – one of which by Passion Pit, the irresistibly euphoric band who just make you smile, who have been known to make you dance in supermarket aisles after your team wins a big match. Then the new one by The Gaslight Anthem, which also seems good. Town is full of Olympics branding, people in tracksuits and official purple polo shirts, trading standards brand protector jobsworths. It feels different: hyped and ready for something big, which you also sense may be nothing at all.

You go home soon after and continue trawling through your photographs.

Your mobile rings while you’re on the landline phone to your Mum. It’s her. You answer, ready to say you’ll call back. But she’s.. she’s crying, in tears, beside herself. Your Mum had asked one question about your holiday before talking about her back garden. You say you’ll call her back.

The boyfriend of one of her best friends, who she speaks about all the time but who you have still yet to meet, was killed in a car accident at the weekend. She visited the couple’s house the previous week. Her friend didn’t want to spoil her holiday and had waited until now to tell her.

Not wanting to sleep alone tonight, she asks you to come over. You pack a few bags and drive an hour down the motorway through a beautiful sunset, past the spot he was killed. You listen to The Gaslight Anthem album again, because Passion Pit now seems deeply inappropriate. The frontman gurns a heartfelt ballad after a string of bombastic Springsteen-esque anthems. Over-earnest? Slightly samey? Still listenable. The industrial chimney chuffing coastal town you pass through looks especially serene beneath the pink hue and arrowing low diagonal light.

You arrive and an emotional, tear-filled evening ensues. It unavoidably reawakens a sense of loss for her parents – neither of whom died too long ago; her mother around five years and her father just over one. Dark thoughts emerge about her life being all about loss and you try to assure her it absolutely isn’t. You go out for a walk around her neighbourhood and breathe, before circling back home and attacking her father’s excellent collection of whisky, which nobody else ever drinks. Tonight it feels deserved.

You tell her how you see it.

You say there is hardly ever reason, logic or fairness in death; to seek it is pointless and damaging. Anyone can die suddenly, tragically, pointlessly. We could all contract some horrid disease which simply sees us off within a month. It happens. But most people tend to die much more slowly.

You try to speak of loss and pain, trying to counter her hurt feelings of futility. With emotional investment of any kind comes risk. Your thankfully underdeveloped perspective of grief still felt relevant. Say you get a dog. You love the dopey mutt for ten to fifteen years and then it goes and dies and you hurt like hell. Does the pain mean you wish away those ten to fifteen years? You avidly follow a football team and care deeply but are put in bad moods more often than good.

It’s also possible that either one of you might eventually end up badly hurting the other, but you appear, gradually, tiny step by tiny step, to be accepting that risk. It’s simply a part of life that at some points we have to either be brave and either accept the chance of pain, or never feel anything.

She nods, sniffs, you wipe off a stray tear. They’ve stopped rolling down her cheeks quite so rapidly. She curls into you and you stroke her hair, scratch her behind the ear: the running joke that your affection for her is too much like that for a dog.

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5 Responses to of love and death and dogs

  1. brennig says:

    The writing, I meant. Not the sadness.

  2. Pingback: born of frustration « Boshsuckled

  3. Pingback: related to death | Boshsuckled

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