I now need space to myself in a way that I never had before. Space away from other people, and with only one dog (rather than the usual three). I feel crowded, hounded, overwhelmed. I can’t remember who told me that the space had already been made for me and my new baby to enjoy together. Maybe. The space could be the timeout required by any new parent. Maybe. The space might simply be my body needing rejuvenation, healing, recovery. Maybe. Whatever the explanation, it’s compelling. It is a need not a want. And hard to negotiate with.
So I take myself back to bed in the early afternoon and crawl under the covers. The first dog to notice stays on my side of the door. And I realise how tired I am. How exhausted. How heavy. How the familiar lump in my throat is starting to ache and my eyes are beginning to sting. How I no longer care about the list of very important things to do today, and have no energy for time. I have tapped out.
I listen to the dog’s rhythmic snore and wish I could sleep like him; easily, frequently, without fear. I watch his nostrils flare and ears twitch as he effortlessly enters a dream. It’s so much easier when you’re sleeping. I’m tired of crying, of the effort it takes to fight back the tears that come without warning. I scrunch the doona in my hand and tuck the other under my pillow. Within minutes I am lucky enough to be dreaming too.
When I awake I’m sleep hungover. Too hot, dazed and disorientated. I roll and come nose to nose with a dog. He’s holding my hand. He’s been here all afternoon. I smile, and consciously remind myself that today was a day well spent. I am not depressed, I’m grieving, and grief is hard work. It wears you out, it pushes you to your limits. I know that it’s important to take the time out when I need it, to listen to my body, my heart, my soul. Seven months on and I’m still learning how to listen. How to provide this new space. How to be okay with sitting still or lying down in the middle of the day. And perhaps the biggest challenge, how to not feel guilty or weak for doing so. I squeeze his paw and he opens his eyes, eyes filled with love and comfort and peace. To him this afternoon was quite the luxury, a perspective I would like to keep.