First day back at work

I woke up 2 hours before work. I was still half an hour late.

Dragging myself out of bed isn’t easy when it’s cold at the best of times.

I’ve cried everyday since it happened. And not just a bit of a well-up. I’ve sobbed uncontrollably.

I’ve held the covers of my bed, my knees on the floor, and kissed my duvet as I hold it as if it’s her. Like I used to kneel at the bed and cuddle her and kiss her before I got her up for the day.

It’s nearly a week and I’m still crying uncontrollably for my love.

I stood at the gate of work having to will myself in, like I had to physically force myself back into my bedroom the day she left.

I get hugs from my workmates. It’s a testament to how we’re not just colleagues, but family.

More than that, they all send her their love, which shows how she touched everyone she met.

She wasn’t just a dog. She was part of their family too.

On the board I see I might be driving the van in which she died next to me.

I freeze.

It all comes back, but I don’t want the first thing my friends deal with in the morning to be me collapsing in grief.

It’s the first day I’m back.

I don’t want them to start the day with a breakdown.

It’s not on purpose. It’s just up on the board naturally. It’s the job I’d have been doing if none of this happened.

There’s a note on the calendar to call Phil.

I do.

We have a conversation where we talk about what’s going on today, what I need and what I can do and what jobs we need to do.

He coaxed it out of me that I’m not ready for that yet, and rearranged the day.

I know I’ve got to face it soon.

I just can’t now.

I was going to bite it, but he pulls it out of me that I can’t.

It’s not just grieving for a lost dog. It’s not even just grieving for a lost loved one and my kid.

That’s where it happened.

In that vehicle, next to me as I was driving, she dropped dead without warning.

Zero warning.

She was ok, apart from being sick. She sat up next to me and looked fine.

And then she wasn’t.

Then she died.

In less time than it takes me to physically say that small sentence.

I have no way of understanding that moment, let alone dealing with it.

It’s the trauma of that moment that’s hitting me, and I’ve had it on loop since it happened.

He knows.

He understands.

He doesn’t want me near power tools or driving without supervision. Not just because I could have an accident, but because he doesn’t want to put me in that situation.

We agree on a job that needs doing that I can face – building a set of shelves for the back office.

I’ve been trying to get round to it for months, but other duties have got in the way.

It’s a job that should take half a day, at most.

I barely finish in time to go home.

I’m not to work with cutting tools today, for my own safety.

I need to build some shelves.

My timber manager cuts them to my specifications.

I can’t cut them, but I’m eager to get things done as fast as we can, so I labour as a chippy’s mate like I’ve never done before.

Every moment of the day I’m reminded of her: running around the yard, lying in the canteen floor, sitting in the office, skanking food during lunch (she always tried to tell people I never fed her).

Then I get reminded of her in a different way.

I put some cut pieces of timber on a tarp covered table with a pool of water on it, and the water moves to where the wood lies, and it reminds me of her vomit on the seat as we drove just before she died, and the both of us trying to keep her away from it until I can stop and clean it up.

I stop and begin to breakdown.

I pick up some 8×1 pieces of timber and they weigh as much as she did when I carried her out of the van.

I stop and begin to breakdown.

I put some timber on the woodwork table, and I remember laying her down in the vets.

I stop and begin to breakdown.

I push the timber on the table, and remember my hands rubbing her belly whilst I was on the phone to my sister, telling her “she’s so cold, she’s so cold” over and over again.

I stop and begin to breakdown.

I make my way out for a cigarette.

All I can see is that day.

The last sound she made was a whimper, after she collapsed and I pulled her up whilst driving.

I need to hear her being happy.

I put on a video of her playing in the snow, and one of her running in the park as a puppy, coming back for strokes behind the ear.

I stop and breakdown.

I go back in.

Our life together runs on loop.

The moment I lost her runs on loop.

At around lunchtime I’m asked if I can do a delivery – not in the vehicle it happened in.

I don’t think I can drive safely, but before I even say anything it’s sorted out and somebody else is stepping in.

(I don’t know this and watch someone load the vehicle it happened in, thinking “it’s ok, they don’t know, but shit this will be hard”, to then find out they’ve got it sorted).

Throughout the day I see her.

I’m hyperventilating and I’ve not eaten.

I see her walking next to me, running to have a wee in the yard, waiting for someone to throw a stick or play with a ball.

Every time I go to the yard to get timber, I feel her walking next to me. Playing in the puddles and waiting for me to kick the water so we could play together.

And I see her as a puppy, walking next to me in the woods, always trying to be near me.

And I see her collapsing.

And I see her in my arms as I run her into the vets.

And I see her on the table as I can’t stop caressing her in the way she loved even though she was already gone.

And I see her cradled in my arms as I stand in her grave and lower her down to rest in peace.

And I finish the job.

I’ve only had a total of 30 minutes break, even though my boss said take all the breaks you need.

But it’s a job that took twice as long.

But I’ve finished it.

The shelves are up.

It’s time to go home.

The tree crews are coming back, and I’m getting hugs and handshakes and messages of love for both her and myself.

I get a card from the folks in the office.

I try not to stop and breakdown.

My friend stops me before I go and asks how I am.

She’s been checking on me throughout the day.

I tell her it’s been tough, and that whilst I have to go home I neither want to leave work, stay at work or go back home.

I assure her I’ll be safe.

I drive home and park up, and I get out of the car and walk.

I walk like a zombie, and every moment of the day she died gets replayed in my head, and I stop at a pub and I bawl like a child and I can’t stop.

It feels like yesterday.

I’m still trying to stop it happening.

In my head I’m still trying to stop it happening and I can’t, and I can’t stop crying.

I know I don’t just have grief for a lost loved one. I have ptsd from what happened.

I don’t know how to get through this.

I just know I miss my love.

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