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Billie: 10 Years at the Bridge

July 18th, 2017 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Ten years ago today, I lost my beloved Billie. It is very hard to comprehend that it has been ten years. Ten years since I held her and gave her cuddles, since I kissed the dip in the top of her head, since I stroked her warm tummy and when I stopped she would raise her paw and demand that I continue.

Billie was the sweetest, gentlest, most loving friend it is possible to imagine. She was a true companion, in person and in spirit. She accompanied me everywhere, her calm, gentle nature making her welcome even in places where dogs are not usually allowed. When I studied for an MA, she came with me to classes, sitting beside me for the three-hour workshop, an occasional lap from her water bowl, but otherwise not a peep. She loved going to pubs. At our local, the Lord Palmerston, I would buy her a steak (medium rare) and they would chop it up for her and serve it in her own special porcelain bowl. She came with me to work. I worked at the time, a couple of days a week in a literary agency. Billie came with me on the train, trotting along through the crowds of commuters, we would stop at the deli to buy her some snacks (parma ham, roast beef), then she’d curl up beside my desk as I worked. When she fancied a break, she’d wander off and visit the other offices. She would walk in on meetings. Several times, I was told that in the midst of a tricky negotiation, the appearance of Billie would ease the tension and make everybody smile. She came to launches, unphased by the assembled ranks of literary stardom, Billie took it all in her stride.

Billie handled London with aplomb. She travelled by tube, by bus and train. She loved to take the boat down the Thames to Greenwich, where we’d wander round the markets together, go to a cafe for lunch. But it was in the mountains of North Wales, where we spent several months every year, Β that we shared some of our the most magical times together. We knew those mountains intimately. We climbed them in every sort of weather, sharing sandwiches behind dry stone walls to shelter from the wind. I loved the way we pooled our skills. Several times, when the mist came down, or when the bracken had grown over the path, it was Billie who guided us home. Once, on Cnicht, she broke a toe and I carried her three miles down to the road, her chin resting patiently on my shoulder, where, thank heavens, a passing farmer, took pity and gave us a lift.

Billie was the sweetest friend. I was not in a good place when I got her, and she saw me through the most difficult years of my life, with her gentle, dependable love. The loss of her, aged ten, from a brain tumour was almost unbearable. The end was horrendous. She reacted badly to the euthanasia drug (an extremely rare occurrence, and almost certainly a result of the brain tumour making her reactions unpredictable. The neurologist, who was senior and highly experienced, was herself badly shaken by it), and this haunted me for a long time. Three weeks and one day after Billie, on 9th August 2007, my father died, also from a brain tumour. It’s extraordinary the pain you can somehow survive.

Billie with my father. This is the last photo I have of them together.

There have been an awful lot of losses in our community recently. Billie is an old timer now at the Bridge, and I like to think of her greeting Colonel Mosby and Kylie and Otis and offering to show them the ropes. She was not a boisterous character, not one for the rough and tumble. She barked maybe five times in her life. But should anyone be feeling in any way uncertain (are such things possible at the Bridge?), Billie will be there to reassure them, with her sweet, gentle presence, her constancy, her quiet, unwavering love.

I miss her so, so much.




11 Comments so far ↓

  • dobemom

    What a beautiful tribute to your amazing companion; what an extraordinary life she led. Thank you for sharing these memories with us.

    Paula and Nitro

  • rikntracy

    That is so beautiful. What a special girl. I know the pain never goes away, you just cope with it better (most of the time, anyway!). Thank you for posting that so I could meet her. And yes, she’s a pro at the Bridge and will show them the ropes as she waits patiently for you.

    Tracy & Zatoichi

  • linda8115

    Such a love story you and Billie have together! The video is a beautiful tribute to love everlasting. The last picture of your Billie and your Dad is a piece of your heart for all time. Your Billie had such a soulful look to her almost as if she was wiser than her years. Sending hugs and love to you today Clare and thank you for sharing your most special Billie with us!

  • mom2shelby

    What a beautiful love story of true love, true companionship and two souls meant to be together. 10 years is long and short all the same … the memories you share are so vivid it is like it was yesterday. Thank you for allowing us to see just a glimpse of the amazing soul sweet Billie was.

    There is something peaceful and pure about her face … her expressions… the video was just perfect!

    Sending you love and hugs!
    alison with spirit shelby in her heart (and little jasper too)

  • Anonymous

    Very beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing your tribute with us. It is never easy on these anniversaries.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  • Michelle

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing your tribute here and letting us see how amazing she was

    These anniversaries are never easy

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  • wanderlustloki

    This is a perfect tribute to Billie, a dog who is still affecting people she never met a decade after her passing. I’m grateful to learn all about her and about your loving companionship! Sending love on this difficult anniversary, Brittnie and Loki

  • jerry

    Claaaaarreeeee! I am bawling here, the video and your words are just so so beautiful and perfectly describe the magical bond you shared together! What a darling Billie was, she had so much character and spunk. You can just tell in the pictures. What a doll.

    I am so sorry about the tragedies you suffered with her and your Dad so close together. How awful that must have been, my heart goes out to you. I’m so glad you had her in your life so that you could reach deep inside your soul and grab onto all the lessons she taught you about surviving hard times. I know you made her proud in the way you came out of the darkness and found life again.

    Billie’s spirit is lighting up our sky tonight way across the pond, and always. A love like that adds to the sparkle in the Universe no matter where we may be.

    Long live Angel Billie in heaven.

  • misterrustybucket

    Clare, I always love your stories and videos about Meg and Else and was so happy to get to meet another of your loves. What a sweet girl Billie was, such a special friend. I feel honored to get to know her even a little and can imagine her as the girl about town in London, I mean any dog who is a regular at the pub! Billie sounds like a true and faithful friend who was there for you when you needed her most. I am sorry for your loss of Billie and your Dad. Thank you so much for sharing Billie’s story.
    ❀️Amy & Rusty

  • benny55

    Oh Clare, dear sweet Clare. The song…the video…the words…the love….you’ve represented what Billie means to you, and what you mean to her, just beautifully. I now have had the privilege of getting to know Billie and to be IN her presence and to FEEL her presence. And what a privilege to be “with” you and Billie!

    Yep, you can bet the tears are flowing though. You’ve articulated who Billie is and what she means to you so eloquently.

    Billie really, really, really is a forever Soul mate. And yes, I certainly believe we can have many different Soul mates for different times in our lives.

    My smiles broke through when I visualized Billie u terjecting herself in Board Room meetings, trotting along through the crowds commuting, and you carrying the Princess THREE MILES because of her owwee!!

    Every experience you shared just says over and over BILLIE FELT SO SECURE AND SO LOVED BY YOU. And she also clearly knew you were putty in her paws and she owned you!! You were NOT to stop rubbing her tummy unkrss she told you you could stop! πŸ™‚

    Billie is so uniquely beautiful. That adorable puppy (pretty sure I could smell puppy breath) turned I to a stunner! I loooove her bone structure…her jaws…her coloring!

    And she certainly knew how to dress up for Christmas! Did I see her as the Virgin Mary..or was she the Baby Jesus??? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Love it!!

    And then that lovely photomof Billie and your Dad….wow……took my breath away. Surely that’s exactly how it looked as Billie greeted your Dad at the Bridge and they headed iff in a hike through the meadows….vibrant and healthy.

    And they will greet you together someday….a llong time from now though, okay??

    Clare, I say this sometimes to others, and I mean it sincerely evertime I say: Just as privileged as you feel to have Beautiful Billie in your life, she felt just as privileged to have you in hers.

    And it is a true privilege to have you in my life.

    With love and light

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

  • izzysmomma

    Shockingly – maybe not – I’m just seeing this. I already knew that Izzy had many friends there to great her at the bridge, but so glad to now know more about Billie. Like you, I lost my father to cancer nearly 11 years ago. It sounds like Billie had a similar effect on folks as my dad, as well as a shared temperament. If it gives you any comfort, I can guarantee that my father was there to greet yours and show him around the place. How sweet it will be when we are all together again. πŸ˜™

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