Fellow dog owners will know that you meet people out walking who become more than just casual passers-by but very often you don’t know their names. They simply become Beano’s dad or Ozzie’s mum. Often you exchange more than the time of day with these people as you walk along and your dogs play and you realise after a while that although you don’t know their names you do know a lot about their lives.
Our brief encounter yesterday was with just such a dog owner, someone Jason and I had talked about several times over the last months as we had not seen her for some time. Last time we had met she was having treatment for breast cancer and was delighted her eyelashes were growing back in but was still somewhat jealous of our short hair as hers was patchy and in her own words rather unfeminine. Not seeing her for such a long time we had assumed the worst and feared the cancer had claimed her. So it was a delight to see a woman the picture of health looking fantastic with a shock of blonde hair out with her dog. The reason we hadn’t seen her it transpired was that unfortunately she was no longer Orla’s mum but was now Quigley’s mum. It was Orla who had become ill and died.
We chatted and caught up on our respective pieces of news and Quigley’s mum asked if we had heard about Molly’s mum, a mutual dog walking friend of ours. We hadn’t seen Molly’s mum for some time either and had wondered if she was OK. “She committed suicide several months ago” we were informed. In some ways I was not surprised although when you hear of someone taking their own life it is always a shock. Molly’s mum suffered from ME and it often left her isolated and depressed and I had missed seeing her on the beach close to our home in all weathers walking her spaniel.
As Quigley’s mum said “It is ironic when I had all the drugs available in my home to end my life and I was fighting so hard to keep it and someone who lives just round the corner from me was desperately planning to end their own”. I cannot begin to imagine the torment that drives a relatively young person to end their life and I make no judgement on her decision. But it is hard because the person I remember, despite her physical problems was often full of laughter and had a mischievous sense of humour. However, she had rehomed Molly so had obviously made a firm and careful plan to end her life and I have to accept that was her decision.
A brief encounter tinged with great sweetness to find someone was still very much alive and deep sadness for the loss of another who had come into my life and left too early.