The hardest part of writing this particular blog, was thinking of the beginning, which is odd as bereavement is about the end.
I was walking this morning, down in the orchard, we didn't visit the river bank due to the face whipping rain and ankle twisting mud, so instead I chose to wait for a break in the weather, which lasted as long as it took to reach the gate before the heavens once again opened, my dogs neither noticing nor caring that the sky was in need of a plumber to tighten the stop cock; so in the pouring rain, whilst they ran between the trees and checked out the hiding places of the squirrels, I pondered the question of bereavement, mainly because I will be at the beautiful Norman church that is on the edge of the orchard, that we pass everyday on our dog walk, and tomorrow around 2pm, I and some other dog walkers will join the family of Sarah, her last name neither known nor needed, but her dog is called Bea.
I first met Sarah a year or two ago and we were not great friends, more passing acquaintance's, meeting once in a while in the middle of a field of waving wheat or under a big oak tree in the orchard sheltering from the weather, we never had coffee nor discussed great topics of interest, we talked about our dogs and how she was.
Sarah had cancer. Breast cancer. It was her second time around. Her son, the youngest one was either a year above or a year below my daughter, I forget which, either way that makes him no more than 20 and no younger than 18, too young to lose your mum. I believe she had two boys but I can't be sure.
Bea, is a Pointer, her white soft belly contrasting with her deep brown short fur that lies flat on her back. Her eyes are deep brown and she was a nightmare to train, preferring a good chew on a leather shoe to a comfort blankie or teddy like Defi.
I last saw Sarah around August time, we were both in the field near the woods, a different walk to the river one. It was a clear, blue skied, hot day, I was wearing jeans and a strappy top and Sarah was wearing a head scarf, brightly coloured, to cover her balding head from all the chemo treatment and a soft flowing white gauzy top that hid the fact she had had a breast removed. She told me that she was having the other breast removed, she was quite fine with this, 'even's me up' she had said, as Bea, normally running wild through the waving wheat stood quietly and patiently at her side.
Bea is 2 or 3.
We passed the time for a few minutes, I wished her well in her treatment, she was very upbeat and talking about when it had all finished and how she had had to slow down for now and it was driving her nuts as she is normally a busy and well driven woman. Defi found a big muddy puddle and wallowed, a cooling mud spa for hot paws.
Sarah had laughed at my grimace and Bea had stood. Quietly and still.
I never saw Sarah again but I kept up with the news from other dog walkers, our passing of news and messages working better than the Post Office with a full compliment of staff. I heard that Sarah was terminal. The cancer had spread to her bones and her time was limited.
She died last Tuesday. She was 50.
A few of us dog walking ladies are going to support the family and show that we will always remember Sarah, the tall laughing woman with a great sense of humour, and of course to say goodbye.
You never know whom you may meet in life, people come and go, walk past with their dogs and touch a moment in time that you will always share.