This morning’s headline that miners are seeking bereavement leave for pets was perfect fodder for News Corp’s anti-union narrative.
And on the face of it, the ambit claim designed to drag out an EBA negotiation with mining giant Rio Tinto does seem barking mad.
It struck a raw nerve though, personally. Whilst I’d never support such a proposal (at what kind of pet do you draw the line?), I can vouch the pain of losing one’s own four legged friend can knock you for six. Notwithstanding, we are in an age where there are so many horrendous worldwide happenings worthy of grief.
Anyway, last Saturday evening my family returned home from the football to find our 12 and a half year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was missing. To cut a long story short Lily had dug out under our fence and squeezed through a similarly tiny gap under next door’s gate before being struck by a vehicle about 30 metres from our house. A perfect day was turned on its head in an instant. I can’t help but reconstruct in my mind the last shocking minutes of her wonderful life. All I hope is the end was instant and painless.
My seven year old boy adored Lily, as did his five year old sister, my wife and myself. She was part of the family. The most gentle, loving and adorable being one could ever know.
My boy and I were a mess, whilst my girl took a little longer to take in what had occurred. My wife was strong enough to console us and call the council. A kind, understanding man came out and helped us to bury her in a special spot next to our lemon tree. While we were waiting the kids composed a letter and a prayer for Lily. We also found some photos to place alongside and my wife a cross. I’m not religious but I welcomed the solace it provided the others.
‘At least Lily had a decent innings’ is as much as I can reconcile from an eventuality that had crossed my mind a bit lately – as much as to how the kids would cope. My wife also had a funny feeling that Lily’s time was running out, and so spoiled her with treats and extra tummy rubs.
We have another cavvie, Woody, who is a little bigger and has never been interested in breaking out. Lily had done so several times over her lifetime, and despite her age and my attempts to fortify the perimeter of our backyard, there was no stopping one final, determined escape.
Woody now cries and scratches at the laundry door through the night. I am as sad for him as I am for the rest of us. Animals do not comprehend death and he simply doesn’t know where his life’s companion has gone. Lily herself went through the same scenario when Brodie (another cavvie we bought at the same time as Lily) also died in similar circumstances on the semi-main road we live on. Worse, she was only 18 months, and Lily lost the plot for the couple weeks until we obtained Woody for her sake.
My wife did not attend work Monday – she was genuinely sick as much as she was genuinely heartbroken. I fronted up and fortunately didn’t have much need to converse with anyone. I don’t think either of us have been able to devote our focus properly on work this week.
Lily could best be described as a living, breathing soft toy. She’d flop in your arms and appear on your lap within moments of sitting down. Her life’s mission was to achieve ‘ultimate comfort’ – whether on us, on our bed, or snuggled up next to Woody. She could be bossy in this regard. She’d nudge your hand with her nose to demand her head and long silky ears be caressed. She’d bark indignantly at the door to come inside, or cry to be lifted onto our bed at night – or first thing in the morning as was her latest habit.
The kids had their ‘Lily’ soft toy dogs they’d take to bed and in Prep my boy compiled a project and spoke to his school about her. He always wanted her on his lap and loved picking her up. Lily would endure this without complaint, but she’d look at me with her big black eyes as if to say ‘really, must he do this?’ Lazy Lily was never big on exercise, and given her comical running style who could blame her? But she loved to be out and strutting about all the same.
Lily gave as much love as she received, and then some. In recent times she became our little shadow. Whether it was in the kitchen, or even the toilet, everywhere we went silent Lily was right behind, getting in the way yet just wanting to ensure we were in her sights. Upon our bed she always had to rest her precious head on my leg.
Perhaps it was this separation anxiety that led to her demise. It was dark and we should have been home already.
No matter how shitty our day had been, Lily was there to greet us, always providing us ultimate comfort. A constant in our lives as long as we’ve lived in our house, as long as we’ve been married. I can still feel her, as if she was part of me.
She is very sadly missed.