Thursday, 10 January 2013

Month's Mind

I took SuperModel to be vaccinated and microchipped.
I cannot describe just how hard it was to go back to the vet's surgery.
It is a month ago today that Top Dog died.
All I could picture, standing on one side of her operating table was my sweet hound, lying there unconscious. All I could think of was holding his face in my hands, of having to kiss him goodbye.

We have had many pets - dogs and cats - and therefore many deaths over the years.
Whenever possible, the vet has come to the house to put an animal to sleep gently in its own bed.
Very few have come to their end in that room they all hate so much.
There was something brutal about the table - pristinely clean of course, not even one white hair caught in the seam to say he had once been there - although God knows, both our vets loved him and tried to save him.

DodoWoman kindly invited me to drop in on my way home, so she could meet SuperModel.
It was a relief to do so, and break my train of thoughts, but back in the car I found some lines going through my head as  - undeterred - my mind replayed the sequence of that ghastly morning:

'...consider when I shall have lost you,
The moon's full hands, scattering waste,
The sea's hands, dark from the world's breast,
The world's decay where the wind's hands have passed
In my hands, and my hands full of dust...

Lines from one of my favourite poems by Ted Hughes. It is called 'Song'.

I was lucky enough to meet Ted Hughes once, many years ago.
I told him how much I liked the poem, but he pulled a face. He had written it, he said, when he was very young. It was addressed to his muse, not - of course - a lost dog.
Perhaps he had outgrown it, as writers sometimes do.
I still love it.
And those lines summed up my feelings better than I can at the moment.

The Month's Mind, although a Catholic tradition now, is a custom that goes back to Norse times.
I understand why.
It marks the moment when you begin to realise, truly realise, that someone isn't coming back.

We went, the three of us, and put snowdrops on their graves in the quiet winter sunlight.
Model Dog sat, pressed tight against my leg, and stared at what I was doing. She knows.
SuperModel tried to run away. She doesn't want to know.
I wish I didn't have to know.



  1. The Month's Mind is a phrase new to me. I like it. Like you my home was repopulated with a new pet less than a moth after Cat died. like you, that new cat was not a replacement, is not a replacement, but a boy I love in his own right, distinct and separate from Cat. I was surprised when I was looking at photos of Cat last month how much it hurt to look at them, more I think than when he first died and photos were a comfort. Now they just confirm his death.
    And I love the poem too, which is also new to me.

    1. It is probably very Irish, Isobel - now you mention it, I didn't know it before I lived here either.
      No, no one can replace anyone. They are just different, and in time you come to love them for themselves.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

    2. My mother is Irish, but it is not a phrase I have heard her use, nor anyone else in our family. Maybe I have not being paying attention.
      When I look at MasterB now, I still miss Cat, but I am so glad that I brought this boy home, fleas and all! And reading your message below in reply to Mairead, I look at MasterB and know I must have done something right in my life to have a cat like him.

    3. Yes, I know that feeling so well, Isobel - no animal ever replaces another, your heart just grows another 'room' with their name on.
      Yes - that is a good way to put it: 'I must have done something right in my life to have a cat like him.' And I feel like that about Model Dog as well. She truly is such a fabulous creature, and Top Dog knew she'd look after me, I'm sure.
      I don't think we ever stop missing those we have loved, people or animals. But I'm glad you have MasterB

    4. PS I'm sure your cousin in Belfast will know the expression Month's mind!

  2. Beautiful photos of your dear Top Dog - no wonder he held such a special place in your heart. But Super Model will help
    to mend that hole as she becomes part of the family.

    1. Hi Mairead. Thanks for dropping by. He was beyond special, was Top Dog. I don't know if he was really a dog? He seemed to understand everything. I feel lucky to have had him at all.

  3. Hello:
    We are so delighted to have discovered your most interesting and 'atmospheric' blog through the comment, to which we have made reply, which you were kind enough to leave on our latest post.

    This particular piece of writing has a poignancy about it for it reminds us of the death of our two cats, one of which took place in an animal hospital in our absence, and the other with our Budapest vet. But one is always able to console oneself, as we are certain is so for you, that one gave to these animals, pets, the very best life one could and they, in return, provided so much unreserved joy.

    Strangely, we too met Ted Hughes, also many years ago.

    We have signed ourselves as Followers and will look forward to future posts and to welcoming you to our site again.

    1. Hello Jane and Lance - how nice to see you here again, and thank you for your comment.
      Yes, you are right - it is a consolation to know that our pets could not have had a happier life. I suppose its ourselves we are feeling sorry for, not for them.
      I have left a second comment on your recent post, which you may well have seen. I always enjoy your posts - I shall resolve to comment more often!


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