Life After Loss

It’s been a few weeks now since I lost Maisie and it’s been a genuinely difficult time for me. I desperately miss my best bud. Maisie brought so much joy to my life, and my existence without her is in very stark contrast. Yin and yang, I suppose, and the direct consequence of such wonderful companionship and mutual devotion for twelve solid years is the brutal reality of loneliness when it ends. 

I’ve tried very hard to process the grief in a way that I never have before, being open to allowing rather than suppressing my emotions. While certainly I’ve made progress, there is still so much more outpouring to do. I still can’t have a conversation about losing Maisie without a wavering voice or tears welling in my eyes. Sitting here and writing this now, almost a month along, the tears are streaming and my nose is running. I know it will ease in time. I just expected it to have eased more by now. In just the first day of losing Maisie I wept more than I did at all when I lost my dad, and those close to me know how hard that was on me. I’m being reminded that there is no relationship so close as that between a man and his dog, and I really do miss greeting “my beautiful lady” every morning.

On Easter Sunday I received the following letter, hand-delivered through the door. I don’t know who it’s from, and I actually don’t want to know because it might affect the magic of it. But magical it was, and even though I don’t honestly believe in the afterlife, I would love to believe this. So I’m choosing to allow myself this little fantasy – a willing suspension of disbelief, if you will, just like we might have a favourite novel or film that we choose to allow ourselves to be absorbed by every now and again. To whoever it was who did send this (if you should ever happen upon this blog), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made an enormous difference in my life and I will be forever grateful.

Letter From Heaven
It’s not the same without you
From Maisie

I’m fortunate to have started a new job, just two weeks after Maisie passed away, and the training for that has done a lot to help occupy my mind and give me something different to focus on. I am really prone to obsessing and so a new job at a time like this is a bit of a life-saver.

The impact of losing Maisie on my photography is beginning to become apparent. I think mundane is probably a good word to describe my day-to-day at the moment.  As regular readers know, I started a p365 project on the first day of this year and it is still progressing. Without Maisie, though, it’s becoming much easier to forget to get out of my chair, leave the house and to go out to take a photograph. A couple of days have already passed where I never even unlocked my front door all day, and I’ve had to rescue my p365 in the last hour or so of the day with a mundane macro shot. There’s that word again; mundane. It really fits how I feel about everything around me at the moment. As with life generally, though, I’m sure things will pick up and I will be able to increase my photographic output again.

Although Maisie was never my muse – truth be told she seemed to hate to have her photograph taken, whether on my DSLR or even my phone – I do have a catalogue of many hundreds, possibly even thousands, of photos of Maisie. Looking through photos of Maisie in my archive of files has prompted almost all of the smiles that have crossed my face in these last few weeks. I’m now reaping the benefit of annoying Maisie with my camera for the past 12 years, and I’m incredibly thankful that I persisted. 

I have created a gallery of random images of Maisie that I’ve taken over the years. It’s very much for my own catharsis but of course everyone is welcome to browse! The gallery is here or you can view it on the next page of this post.

March 5th 2010

If there is one piece of advice that I have to share, it is to take photographs of those you love. Take them often. Take them “like it or not”, because there will come a day when you wish you’d taken even more. You have a duty to your future self, to soften the blow of a terrible loss with reflections of happier times. Make sure you give yourself something to lean on. There could be no greater disservice to yourself than to unwittingly sprinkle the salt of regret on the open wound of a broken heart.

A regular circular walk I took with Maisie for several years, at Otley Chevin Park. In the last 2 years she would only participate once because of her arthritis. Now this path represents a very lonely journey.
Maisie on the same circular walk at Otley Chevin Park, back in January 2014.