Sunday, 28 August 2005


Barney is gone. Jacqueline found him Saturday morning, curled up in one of the sideboard cupboards, of all places. Looking very fed up with himself and feeling rather cold. We took it in turns to fuss the boy, and to keep him warm, but you could tell that the spark was disappearing. A brief trip to the vets later on in the morning confirmed our worst fears. Poor thing.

Of course on top of our own grief, all of this is difficult to convey to a six year old. Alice had wanted to stay with Barn right until the end, but Jacqueline took her out of the surgery into the waiting room, leaving me with the uncomfortable job of giving the boy one last fuss. I think the first she understood was when she saw me coming out of the surgery in tears. She then was in tears too, and I thought she realised what had happened.
We forced ourselves to go out to do the weekly shopping, when Alice just started being Alice. Probably no more boisterous than any other day, but of course neither Jacqueline nor I were in the mood, so she seemed many times worst than she probably was. When we got home, the kids from next door came around to play, and were all very matter-of-fact about things. But then of course, when its not one of your own pets, its just a cat.

Yesterday evening, things finally started to sink in with Alice and she was very tearful. Many, many questions about god and heaven, mixed up with the genuine grief that she'll never get to touch, to fuss, the boy again. In some ways the fact that she's going to a christian school makes it straightforward to put things into terms she has at least heard of, but quite rightly she feels there are questions to ask besides what we say to her. Plus, of course, for me not really believing in this stuff, I find myself putting things in almost clinical terms for her whereas perhaps an evangelist might be more convincing.

Even now, the reason I am awake at 3am is because I've just been woken up by Alice crying. And then you get thinking...

And then over and above Alice, there's the grief you feel yourselves. Certainly for me, since I was the one Barn always used to come to by choice. Of course, he was such a shameless tart that he'd go to anyone for a fuss, I was the one he came looking for first. Very difficult to put it into words. So long, Barney-boy, I'll miss you.

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