Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lick my face, or I won't cry.

A few years ago my father in law died. At lunchtime. In August.

Have you ever tried getting a funeral director quickly in Milano at that time, during that month ? Fat chance.

The paramedics had made a mess, it was an emergency, that it just how it is.

My father in law was a proud and dignified man.

The only practical thing I could do to help my husband and my brother-in-law was spare them seeing him at the end of his life disheveled and stripped of his dignity. So I washed and dressed him. Not something I was every culturally prepared for, but it helped that I knew, that if he knew, he would have appreciated being touched and handled with respect and care.

And I don’t think I cried, I just did it, it felt right and I knew I was doing the right thing and I was the only family member who could it. I liked having something useful i could do that made things better,or at least stopped them being worse.

And yet tonight, when Rosie, my littlest doggie, my first ever doggy, slipped away like we knew she would, I buried her with no stiff upper lip to be found.

If you had given me the scenarios in the hypothetical I’d have told you that I simply couldn’t do the first, cos I’d fall apart at the seams, and the second would be easier cos I have had to bury pets before and the first cut is the deepest.

But I was wrong. I haven't built up any immunity at all.

Maybe I just like animals more than humans. Although I don’t think that is true. But maybe I don’t know myself as well as I thought I did.

Or maybe I can only grieve openly and unreservedly if a enthusiastic face licking and trying to trip me up twenty times a day is part of the relationship.

Mario already leaves his clothes lying around everywhere like deathtraps. Maybe if he slobbers on my face instead of kissing me in the morning he’ll up his chances of a properly mournful widow.

Cos I have already decided he is going first.

Because I want to lay him out, so the last hand that ever touches him on this earth is the one who loves him the most.

Although I’m not sure he is too happy about his placement in the queue of mortality organized behind his back.

Do I make sense ?

Probably not.

Is my heart broken ?


My son, who will have some unhappy news in the morning, is snoring loudly, which means he is breathing and I have kept my sense of proportion.

I have a stubbed toe, not a broken back.

But it hurts, it really fucking hurts.


  1. What a moving post. I'm so sorry about Rosie. And admire your courage in having laid your father-in-law out. Too right - our culture does nothing at all to help us through such times. Bacini.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. Good luck with your giving your son the news.

  3. It's amazing what we can do when we have to - as you did for your father-in-law. I'm sorry to hear about Rosie.

  4. it's the unconditional, do-anything-for-you, always bright eyed, always-checking-to-make-sure-you're ok love. People can't give that to eachother. Dogs give it to us. I am so so so so sorry. She deserved your unabashed tears.

  5. Sorry about your dog. My daughter (9 years old) cries at the thought of our dog dying. He is old and it will happen, but it doesn't make it any easier. x

  6. A beautiful post - the point you make about him going first is so true, when Mr was having heart problems and things were all a bit grim one thing I did hold onto was at least he'd go first and I could look after him rather than him being left on his own - morbid mainly but felt helpful to have thought through

    Hoping you're ok xxx

  7. What a beautiful post you've written with so much emotion and truth. I'm so sorry that your dog is gone. I wish I could reach out and give you a big hug. I hope your son handles the news okay. At least he'll have you there to cry with him.

  8. one death never makes another easier. You just learn some tools.
    A lovely thing for you to have done for your husband's grandfather. There is something beautiful and rewarding about tending to someone after death. But it's certainly not for everyone.


  9. I'm sorry for your loss. And I think you make a lot of sense there. x

  10. I'm so sorry about Rosie. A stubbed toe might not be as serious as a broken back, but you sure feel it a lot more sharply. I think she would appreciate knowing she was handled with respect and care after her passing too.

  11. Argh, I hate facing mortality--whether pets or humans. Just yesterday I was in the vets with my kitten and out of the consulting room came a tearful family clutching a blanket. I almost started crying thinking of my (fit and healthy)17 year old cat at home.

    Im sorry to hear about your little Rosie. I hope you recover soon. xox

  12. I'm so sorry. I really feel for you. Lots of love from Sicily. xxx

  13. Really feel for you, there is something about pets dying though, they are such big parts of your life. Hope your son wasnt too upset x



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