Guess I haven't been too crash hot on saving money this week; I've been concentrating more on trying to heal broken hearts. I gave the boys the dreaded news and of course they were devastated. They had never expected for a moment that she wouldn't get better and had gone off to school quite happily. We felt it was important that the boys saw Tui, as they never got to say goodbye to her before she was rushed off to the vet and while heartbreakingly sad I think it helped a lot. So we held a little funeral in the orchard that afternoon. Ali was so brave. He insisted on helping Noel with the burial, saying it was his responsibility but before sending her to her new resting place he did something which just about finished me off. He disappeared up to his room for a minute, then came running back with something in his hand. He gently removed Tui's collar and lovingly tied a soft gold ribbon around her neck before announcing to his dad that she was ready to go. Noel had prepared for the service with a visit to the garden centre beforehand and had picked out a brightly coloured pomegranate tree, which now stands just across from Dudley's little apricot tree, planted just a few months ago. As with the Dudley tree, the Tui tree has brought immense comfort and is visited several times a day.
Unfortunately, it was going to take more than a memorial tree to heal the pain in Ali's heart and the empty spot on his bed. When I tucked him into bed that night with his hot water bottle, he had fastened Tui's collar over his favourite framed photo of the two of them and insisted on clutching it tightly as he slept. The sight of that just about tore my heart out but the worst part was when he asked me not to put his hottie under the blanket as usual, but put it at the end of his bed on top of the blanket instead. 'Then it will feel more like Tui felt like when she slept on my bed', he explained. The next morning was unbearably sad. Instead of the usual noisy chatter and laughter that always came from the boys' room on waking, the house was silent. In fact, the boys slept in as there was no boisterous Tui demanding to be let out. Liam's dog Hubble spent the day looking hopefully up the stairs to see if his scruffy black friend would appear at the top of them and bound down to meet him. After the second night of sending Ali to bed with a hot water bottle at the foot of his bed, Noel and I could stand no more. Tui had left an immeasurable hole in all our lives and the house was just too sad and quiet without her. We needed to bring some joy and laughter back - but most of all, Ali needed a new warm lump on his bed to replace his hot water bottle.
We had a look on the Internet and were fortunate enough to find a litter of cocker spaniels who were ready for their new homes right away. Ali had already decided he needed a new companion - every time he looked at Liam and Hubble together it made him feel even more alone. Not only that, he had been given some money for his birthday just a few days before and had decided that a new friend was a far more worthy investment that the wrestling toys he had originally planned to buy. We all knew that a new puppy was never going to replace Tui and we wouldn't want one to, but Tui had been so much loved and longed-for by our little boy, he just didn't deserve to be dealt such a rotten blow. So yesterday dawned still sad and quiet, but with a hint of anticipation in the air. Ali had been given a day off school to go and choose himself a new puppy. 'Are you sure you're ready for this? You can change your mind you know', I told him. 'Yeah, I'm ready, honest Mum' he said seriously. 'I need a new friend - and a new bedlump'. So we drove up to Auckland's North Shore, where he was greeted by two bouncy black and white girls looking for a home. Never one to muck around, Ali made his decision in two minutes flat and named her Minnie, which seemed to suit her straight away. She slept on his lap the whole way home and every time I turned around and spotted Ali's look of contentment, I knew we had done the right thing. For him, it felt right again. Not the same - certainly different, but at least it felt right. This was proved even further when we arrived home and Minnie bounced up to the normally reticent Hubble. He had spent the last few days trying to incite our tubby old Lab Ella to play with him but he hadn't had much luck, she couldn't keep up with him for a start. The obvious joy he felt in having a new playmate showed just how much he had been missing Tui too. He still looks up the stairs to see if she's there but at least he has a friend waiting to play at the bottom of them now.
So this morning I am writing this blog with Minnie asleep in a little bed on top of the desk next to me. She spent the whole of last night on Ali's bed without so much as a squeak and this morning she was proudly taken to school, so Ali could show all his friends who had comforted him earlier in the week. Ali reckoned if he charged at the school gate for everyone who had asked to cuddle her, he'd be rich! Talking of which, we didn't let him spend ALL his birthday money on Minnie. He was adamant he wanted to but we didn't feel it was fair, it wasn't his fault Tui had died and if she had still been here, he wouldn't have needed to spend his birthday money on a new dog. So he came to a deal with his grandparents. He agreed to let Noel's dad buy the two front legs for him, my mum would buy the two back legs and Ali would pay for the head, tummy and tail. I'm so proud of him; kids can be amazingly resilient. I just wish I had half his strength, I'm still bursting into tears every five minutes! At least the frequent floods of tears are keeping me out of the shops though - goodness knows what would happen if I opened the floodgates in Mr Patel's, he thinks I'm bonkers as it is. Mind you, I am really looking forward to being able to function properly again though, I hope I can pull myself together soon as I am finding that grief is really not good for the budget. After two nights of toasted sandwiches for dinner I did something I hadn't done in longer than I can remember. I thought it was about time I gave Noel a decent meal but in my lethargic state I just couldn't bring myself to think of anything, let alone do anything about it. So I went out and bought a horribly expensive packet of frozen chicken tenderloins and a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables in their own sauce. He said it was nice but I felt terribly guilty not even bothering to make something so simple myself. Bloomin' expensive meal too - the vegetables were supposed to serve four but there wasn't even enough for me! Then last night my poor long-suffering mother came for dinner. She arrived home from a month's holiday in England on Monday and has had to put up with her daughter moping around hopelessly for the past four days. Last night was supposed to be a 'welcome back' dinner but I ended up going for fish and chips instead - mum's idea as she could see if she waited for me to actually get round to putting a meal together everyone would have fainted with starvation by then!
At least I have discovered one thing which is really helping and that's my homeopathy kit. It never ceases to amaze me all the things it can help with. I mean, just imagine if I went to my local GP and said 'Doctor my dog's just died and I can't bring myself to eat or do anything and I can't stop crying', what could he do? Apart from charge me $35 and make me feel like a right plonker, probably not a lot. Not so with homeopathy. There are all kinds of remedies for grief which work fast and cost just a few cents and nobody else needs to know you're falling apart at the seams! Now, if I can just find the perfect remedy to get me back into menu planning, that will really help the bank balance!
PS: In case you haven't seen my message on the Forum, I must add a huge THANK YOU to everyone for your kind thoughts, messages and prayers. I am going to print them all off for Ali to treasure - thank you!