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You Cannot Lose What You Don't Have

Novel By: Scribblings of a middle aged mad man

Subject ... Loss View table of contents...



Submitted:Sep 14, 2011    Reads: 9    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

Sometimes the easiest stories to tell are those that are true; Well as true as remembering events from long ago, can be. My sister, Rebecca and I were over a park, near our housing estate, from memory she was nine, so I would have been eleven. As I was swinging high on a tyre, I noticed a beige mop moving around the edge of a wood land near where the sports field ends. I stopped putting effort into the chains either side of me and waited until it was safe to jump down. I motioned to Becky who was half way up a slide ladder to follow me, we made our way to the thicket and I tried to explain what I had seen. The walk took about five minutes and I found this good bonding time, since the loss of our Mother some 8 weeks earlier we had found it hard to communicate. For the first time since the funeral we were looking into each others eyes and didn't seem to be avoiding subject matter. I put my arm around her, and I must confess a tear welled in my eye as she squeezed me. I had always felt my Mum and Becky were not only Mother and Daughter but best friends, I fell into the category of just, her Son and more often than not, a nuisance at that. In truth as I recall what happened that day, I can now admit I resented Becky for the relationship she had with our Mum. Death ends everything, there are no redeemable chances, that was the lesson I learned that Summer. All my memories of time I spent with my Mum, at some point feature Becky getting the lime light or the biggest reward. I know, life's not fair, but I can only relate my feelings then and now! We were near the woods edge and the light brown movement I had spied from the park was indeed a small animal. Becky's steps became quicker, I was almost being dragged to our destination, the words, her words, "Its a puppy, it's a puppy," were ringing in my ears..

A small, sand coloured Labrador dog, no older than 1 month was there in front of us, it's eyes sad, we just looked at each other not knowing our next move. As I was hearing Becky's requests for us to rescue, keep and nurture the puppy, I noticed the rear of where the dog lay, was patterned with thick dark blood. I knew at any moment Becky's young eyes would fall upon this fact and I tried to ready myself for her emotion. Becky's excited words stopped, her breathing changed altogether, she tugged at my waist, alerting me to the injury. I now knew we had to take the poor animal home and to a vet as soon as possible, but here is where some of that behavior, I previously mentioned comes into play. I started to explain that we should leave the puppy as it's owners would soon return and would be upset to find their pet missing!! I knew what I was saying was wrong and the extreme weight of guilt, I still feel today, my Sister broke in to a hysterical fit of tears. I tried to console her on the way home and did a good enough job, that by the time we were home we had both agreed a secret pact to never mention this to our Dad. That night I lay in my bed with only thoughts of my Mother and was actually happy with my Sister not getting her own way!

I awoke the next morning to the sight of my Dad and Rebecca standing at the foot of the bed. I knew by their expressions Becky had let slip our little secret, I threw her a look of disappointment. My Dad, was still at the stage where he was being very careful with us both in terms of discipline, it was almost like he felt the death of our Mother was discipline enough for one year. Quietly he explained that what we had done was wrong and we must immediately go to where we saw the animal and hope the puppy was still alive. As I walked to the bathroom to ready myself I threw my sister a knowing kick, just to let her know, my authority should (always) be respected! I was silent on the car journey, the truth was I knew I had done the wrong thing, my Sister on the other hand was hypo, she was thinking of names for the puppy and where it would sleep! It was early August, but still it was cold out at such an early hour, there was a risk the poor animal had frozen during the night, or had been moved by someone else. The biggest smile came across my Sisters face as she and my Dad started to run, after seeing that now familiar beige mop. I didn't smile but there was relief because even from my distance I could see the young dog was now moving and aware of our attention. By the time I got to them my Dad was pulling at a metal object on the rear of,,,,,,, 'Sandy, yes Sandy, Becky had christened the puppy on arrival, she must have spent the night thinking of names. Her beaming smile, did make me happy in that moment, the name was perfect, we still didn't know if Sandy was a boy or a girl. Sandy made a soft yelp as my Dad continued to prod at the injured rear leg, he eventually gathered a piece of branch and used that to open the rusty object. He held up a dark, blood soaked rat trap, the device looked evil, basically a large mouse trap which I was familiar with. I became nauseous at the sight of the blood, but Sandy's eyes were now wide and bright and the thought of being sick soon disappeared. My Dad collected a large red tartan blanket from the car, poor Sandy now looked like a baby all wrapped up warm and snug.

My Sister held that package as though it was the most precious thing in the world, she stroked Sandy's ear and told how everything was going to be ok now. My Dad was now talking about emergency trips to the vet, but first we would take Sandy home, wash the dry blood and assess how much damage there was. The reality of being dog owners hit us all on that ride home, we even began discussing walking rota's and which foods we should buy. My Sister proclaimed that Sandy would sleep in her room at the foot of her bed, for ever and ever and he would protect her. I was not sure why she suddenly decided Sandy was a he, that was the first mention of whether the puppy was a he or a she. My Dad soon corrected Rebecca, Sandy, he said was in fact a she, far from displeasing Becky she gave Sandy a big kiss, so I will protect her she boasted. To this day, I would say that was the happiest I saw Becky, her cheeks were blushed red with happiness, her eyes wide and trimmed with tears of excitement. After showering the wounded leg, it became clear the injury needed urgent attention. It was two deep slices into the blonde fur, the main one being very deep and still oozing blood, poor Sandy yelped uncontrollably as we assessed the damage. I watched as a tear rolled down Becky's face, she asked if she would be ok, my Dad made assurances but requested she get the Yellow Pages. We soon located a Vet, and according to the recorded message when we called, they would be open at 10 am. My Dad wrapped Sandy's rear right leg in a white bandage and Becky volunteered to carry her, to the car, well anywhere and everywhere. The bond between Sandy and Becky was irking me, i must confess, I wasn't possessed to hinder her happiness but....

The wait in the holding room at the vets went quick enough and soon we were all in a small, white and very clean room. An elderly, kind looking gentleman was asking my Father questions and then to my surprise turned on me. He wore all white and his name badge confirmed he was the head surgeon, he asked why we had left Sandy out all night, such actions were not clever! I did not say anything, his questioning only stopped when I raised my right hand to remove a tear from my eye. It soon became clear we had to leave the room, back in the holding room my Dad explained that they needed to operate on Sandy's leg immediately, or there was danger some infection may cause the loss of her leg. Becky never sat, she just walked from the window, back to the door, back to the window, her face blushed and eyes sore. Then after, what seemed like a long period, a very determined Rebecca stood in front of my Dad and me and demanded to know Sandy was going to be ok? My Dad offered a half smile but delivered words that seemed to comfort Becky enough for her finally to sit down. This did not last long, within a few minutes Becky was up, pacing the room and putting her ear to the far door, where she knew Sandy was behind. I didn't talk to my Father, not now, not really ever, I guess we had very little to really talk about. I enjoyed watching him, the way he did things made me smile, but I never showed this. After what seemed like one hundred hours the door opposite opened and there stood the surgeon, but the kindness was gone, a look of anguish haunted his frail look.

Retelling the moments of what unfolded that morning, still brings cold tears to my eyes. It feels as if my heart is being squeezed by an evil force, something that wants to harm me. The truth is, I kind of went numb to what was happening, not just numb but blind and deaf, I knew my sister was on the floor, hysterical in her grief, I knew for the first time since my Mums' funeral, my Dads eyes were releasing pent up tears. What did I do, how did I feel, I just can not say, I know as the surgeon was explaining about the operation, it was a story with a very sad and cruel ending.Perhaps the retelling of those days would be more poignant if I was more able to recount my true emotions and convey them well. I can not, that is the hard truth, of course the puppies death was very much my fault, a guilt I will carry for ever. My sisters eyes glowed a vengeance that almost cast a spell on me as I caught her stare. The facts from that day are, Sandy's heart stopped during surgery, no amount of massage or well practiced recovery methods worked, and she died on a metal table with a white cotton cloth folded three times on it. Only my Dad and Sister returned into the sterile theater to say goodbye, I could not face what lay in that room. The hurtful shadow of death was once again being cast upon my family and this time the guilt I carried was very real. My Father arranged for us to collect Sandy's ashes a few days later, and I recall Becky being very animated in her demands for the funeral, which would take place in our back garden.

My behavior was nothing to be proud of over this period, I shudder at some of my actions and words I said. My lowest moment was telling Becky during an argument about toothpaste, that the loss of Sandy was not real as she did not own her. As the words were falling out of my mouth, I almost immediately wanted to grab them and silence them, but it was too late. I had always been told, you can not lose what you don't have, but learnt the hard way you can, and it can be very emotionally costly. Sometimes a funeral can bring closure, but as the three of us stood there above a hole in our garden, the rain could not disguise the pain in our tears. My pain was guilt, I should have been more grown up, did the right thing; I have no doubt Sandy would have been stronger and more able to cope with the operation, had we taken her twelve hours earlier. There was no photos, no history of us with Sandy during her short life, but we all felt the void left by her passing. Something irreparable broke between my Sister and I, over those few days, in truth I do not blame her for hating me, or blaming me..

We never discussed those events again, it was like a dream within a few months. The burial area soon regrew and not once was the name Sandy mentioned in our household. I do sometimes wonder if my Father and Becky shared moments discussing Sandy and the pain the whole incident brought, but that was not his way. I also sometimes think my Sister, knew I harbored huge amounts of guilt over the death and so she deliberately never spoke about Sandy or anything to do with those sad days. Eleven years later, Becky took ownership of a black Labrador, even then no mention came of Sandy, the puppy grew into a lovely dog, called Space. I never wanted a dog as a pet, while I can appreciate them as a fine animal, the memories are still too real of what happened when I should have cared for one. This story I dedicate to my lovely Sister Rebecca, who passed away in April this year from the same cancer that took my Mother. If I could perform one moment of magic, I would make time rewind and I would carry Sandy home as soon as we lay eyes on her. I have a fairytale version of events, that sees Becky and Sandy enjoying their young lives together and sharing many, many special moments, moments I still remind myself I stole from them both...


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