This is the season of anniversaries for us. Alan and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage and 13 years since what, in retrospect, we consider to be our first date (although at the time it was simply a convivial meeting over dinner). It was 28th October 2008 when I got the cancer diagnosis, so as I kick up the leaves of this happy and calm Northumbrian autumn, somewhere in me are echoes and memories of those ever-increasing needles and peculiar, portentous dreams.
And there is another anniversary, a new one. It’s a year today since Joy’s dog Hope joined the family. (She was formerly named Laura, but that struck us as an odd name for a dog, like Richard or Christine, so she was renamed.)
In a year Hope has taught us a great deal. There are the obvious things, of course, like don’t leave a sandwich unattended on a low table, and when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. But being around Hope is a daily lesson in being in the moment. When she’s asleep, you’ve never seen anything quite so asleep.
When she’s chasing rabbits at dusk on the beach, she could give everyone hoping for a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics a lesson in focus and single-mindedness.
When you come home after being away – whether it’s been half an hour or half a week, every atom of Hope’s being is ecstatic to see you.
Mostly, she and Joy are a lesson in unconditional love.
I’m looking forward to the next year. Or I would be, if Hope hadn’t taught me that what matters, truly, is now.
(You can read about how Hope came to join us here.)