Gemma

July 22, 2007 at 4:46 pm (personal)

The biggest, and worst event to have happened in my life for – well, probably the whole of my life – was that of my wonderful dog Gemma dying on Monday the 25th of June this year. She was an adorable tiny little Yorkshire Terrier, with one eye and a beautiful smile – she was not playful in a tradition sense, but she did enjoy following me and my father around – knowing what we were doing. She absolutely hated the idea that if she did want us we wouldn’t be there, as demonstrated by how she would often just lay in her basket in the kitchen idly if the door was open, but if it was closed she would howl and sniff and scratch and bark.

Parts of me wanted to just not include this in my blog, it being such a personal and upsetting event – but other parts of me couldn’t stand that I’ve talked about Chinny Raccoons and Gnome and KDE, and then go and leave off one of the most seismic things that have occurred recently – it would feel like betraying her memory, not to acknowledge it openly.

Me and dad have had Gemma for about five or six years now, she was a rescued dog – originally found outside a police station in a cardboard box with a Pekingese. From then she was chosen by my fantastic cousin Henrietta – whose mum, Pip, took part in a rescue service for their area. Me and dad only came into the picture when we got around to delivering one of our old computers to Pip, and in the time we spent there, discovered the little Yorkie with one eye. It was only on the way back that me and my father talked about adopting her and decided we would both like to. Some point after that, we adopted her, and then she was part of our family.

Gemma’s had a huge effect on me, I had always wanted a dog – ever since I was little, and the funny thing was, I never thought it’d be a tiny dog like Gemma, I thought it’d be a ‘real’ dog, like a border collie or something. It was a bit odd at first, having a dog – and the novelty of her took quite a while to wear off.

Over the years Gemma has become such a central part of both mine, and my father’s life. Truly being a member of our family. Perhaps interestingly, Gemma has been around me from when I was around 14 to now being 19 years old. In this time I’ve completely changed my art to a large extent in that time, started using Linux – and ended up at the point where I virtually exclusively use it, met most my current friends – not all, but most, did Sixth Form and, well – changed a great deal in my opinion, finally became a vegetarian. Gemma has been around me for so much of this time.

Something that me and dad used to notice about Gemma was how many different things she could look like, depending on how long her hair was, and what facial expression she was wearing – and even her behaviour. Sometimes she would be just a normal Yorkshire Terrier dog – but this was rare, usually she was either my little spotted hyena cub, or a lion, or perhaps a soft cuddly teddy bear – she had ways of looking at us; through her face, and through the way she looked at us with her one large eye – sometimes she would look at us with the facial expression of parental concern and love towards us, other times with the interest and excitement of a puppy or child, eager to know what’s going on and how to be part of it. Even though she could not talk English, it was certainly clear that she wanted to tell us things, and sometimes you could see a little frustration in her when she realised how difficult it was to communicate with both of us.

It seemed like around the days she died, this look was often one of worry, concern – not just her usual motherly concern for us, but something a little more – also with a tinge of wanting to know what was going on around her. Other times she was full of exhaustion, barely able to move. But finally, when we went to see her at the vet for the last time, of absolute love and interest in having her family around her after we’d been away for some time, very unfortunately. It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that we took her to the vet on Monday morning after she had been collapsing Sunday night – however I had to rush off and do an exam (an exam over 3 hours long) straight after this, and it was only after I had got back that we then rushed off to be with her for the last time.

One of the saddest things is feeling memories become just that, memories – knowing that those last parts of of Gemma that are still there – almost like she is still there – the last bits of data in my brain’s local cache are now just normal files in the filesystem. Or at least, that is how it feels. I will always have memories and photos – maybe even a video clip somewhere, but nothing as intense as what I had. Life has felt very empty since she died, for me though – I’ve been struck down with some horrid illnesses and have had many other things to worry about and keep my mind off her. Of course, that in itself is a sad thought, that with all my distractions I can just have my mind taken off her to some extent.

Both me and dad are going to miss Gemma so much, and we’ve both found her death very difficult to cope with.

Thanks for reading this.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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