As normal I took the dogs for a walk this afternoon. We went down across Marymead, through the fields bordering the river and forest, past the two deer wallows, up and across to Bill’s chicken coop where I spent a moment chatting chicken-speak to the hens before crossing the small bridge into the pheasant cover, across a little stream into the smallest cultivated mowy mead (meadow) you can imagine. Almost across the meadow, it only takes a second or so, my head was full with thoughts of hens; wondering if I should get some more, what type I’d choose, going to have a look at a friend’s friend’s, or if I’d rather have ducks and geese…or maybe all three come to that, when I had an overwhelming desire to turn around…and there rushing full pelt towards me, her eyes shining bursts of pure joy, a grin to bust all grins, her tail going nineteen-to-the-dozen, and her whole body radiating unadulterated delight and excitement, was Jilly.

“Lilla? Lilla!” A whoosh of tingling pricklings rushed through my body one way whilst pure happiness flooded the other. Just before she could fling herself at me and explode with enthusiastic delight she evaporated…poof, just like that as fast as she’d appeared.
“Lilla, oh Lilla, Lilla.” I whispered. “Was that really you? Stay. Don’t go. Not just yet.”

And then immense, bottomless, black empty grief drenched and saturated every cell of my being. Hot tears welled up and cascaded down my face. I was looking through a dark watery lake. I felt the two hard panting bodies of Skye and Ness pressed close against my legs. I turned to go, not seeing, not caring, only aware of consuming sorrow and anguish.

Just as rapidly as the grief came it went leaving me exhausted, empty and shell-like-fragile to walk home. That’s when it came to me in a flash…it’s the exact day, the exact hour, the exact minute, possibly even the exact second, that Jilly had her fatal accident – six months on.

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