Brains are weird. They sort of house who you are – your personality, your emotions, your lived experience – but they also sort of navigate you practically through time and space in a way that’s both primed to change in the event of new data but which is also predicated on what has gone before, especially on things you do every day in a kind of default setting way. Let me explain.
Before I had the kitchen revamped in 2011 I’d had the bin in the same place for nine years previous. When the kitchen changed, and the bin moved, I found myself launching apple cores, screwed-up crisp packets, orange peel toward the empty place the old bin had been. I did it for months before my brain re-wrote its new bin placement data and for the ‘bin has moved’ default-setting/auto pilot part of my brain to catch up. Until it did, I was in bin limbo.
Today, (and for the previous three weeks) to get to the point I’m trying to make here, I’ve been in beloved-pug limbo, Boo-Boo limbo, constant-companion-through-first-lockdown-who-passed- away-on-the-14th-October-after-a-devastatingly-short-illness limbo.
Don’t get me wrong, October 2020 was one of the most up-and-down I’ve ever loved through (this should have said lived and is a typo, but when I edited I quite liked it and thought it was more appropriate so decided to leave it be). So to re-iterate. October 2020 was one of the most up-and-down I’ve ever loved through, the following being things that happened in addition to Boo-Boo passing away: my mum-in-law had a stroke (and is still in hossie where she’s not allowed visitors because of Covid and waiting to be transferred to the stroke rehabilitation unit but doing as well as can be expected); my youngest son had (and recovered from) Covid whilst away at uni in Nottingham); my eldest son who lives in Poland, got married at a tiny wedding ceremony at the reg office in Reda, Poland which I attended and am now in 14-day isolation after coming back into the country from; and I won third prize in the Bath Flash Prize.
So true to say that Oct 2020 has been a yo-yo rollercoaster, and yet my Boo-Boo limbo still persists. Every morning I wake up and my first thought is – must let Boo-Boo out for a wee; every time I answer the door, I think I must make sure the inner door is closed to BooBoo doesn’t run out; when I’m writing or day-dreaming, random Boo-Boo related thoughts pop into my mind – is Boo-Boo’s water fresh? Where shall we walk to today? Oh look at the crow on the lawn, I must release Boo-Boo to chase it away.
I know this Boo-Boo in-my-brain default setting is not indelible. I know that one morning I will wake up and sip my brew before I think of her. I know one day I won’t think of her even then, and that my default setting will have moved on to other habitual musings. But for now I’m just going to go with the flow and feel the pain of Boo-Boo’s ghost still triggering my thoughts, because that pain is a symptom of the love I had for that very small, yappy-with-an-attitude (if you were a crow or squirrel), adorable, loving bundle of life.
Her real name was Boudica, queen of the Iceni (though of all the names I called her it’s the one she didn’t come to). She was Boo-Boo, Boo-Boo Baby, Mrs Boo, All the Boos in all the World, The Booster and I will miss her so terribly until the terrible day I don’t.
Here are some photos of her, including the one I took just before we set off to the vets. Bye Boo. I loved you very much and though one day I know the auto-pilot thoughts I have of you in the most ephemeral parts of my brain will re-write themselves, the gratitude I feel for having shared the planet with you for ten short years, will stay in my heart of hearts for as long as I have any capacity for feeling.