My older brother, Steven, and his wife had come to stay for a few days. This was the first night of their visit and his condition had rapidly deteriorated, he was struggling with the mechanics of breathing and was going into crisis.
It was 4am and it felt like a cast of millions were bustling about. Someone was ringing for an ambulance, giving clear directions on how to locate us, decisions were made about who should go to hospital with him, mobile phones found up, loose change located.
As everyone bustled about Steve sat on a bench out on the patio, struggling to hang on. His desperate need for air had driven him out there to sit under the moonlit sky. The coolness helped, a little.
How he kept as calm as he did, I shall never know.
I sat beside him and I knew the end was very close and there was absolutely nothing which I could do for him. I can honestly say that I sensed Mr De'ath was waiting nearby. I silently shrieked at him to keep away from my big brother.
I held Steven's hand and told him that it was important that he knew how much I love him, then I lost the use of my voice. I found myself tracing a pattern of small circles on his knee - each being one and a quarter turns - unconsciously using the technique which is so soothing and calming for dogs. I was completely powerless to help, useless.
Rapidly progressing Myasthenia Gravis (bulbar) is a cruel disease.
Luckily, Steve did make it and has received wonderful treatment, for which I thank the NHS. It won't cure him, but it helps to bring a semblance of 'normality'. He lives to tell the tale, and I am happy that he has more time. Our younger brother, Owl, has been there for him all this time. Visiting, entertaining, keeping his spirits up, driving, fetching, carrying, giving support and showing his love in the most practical of ways.
I have two wonderful brothers...we don't always see eye to eye, we have vastly different opinions and perspectives for we are three very different people, but there is an extremely strong bond of love.
Talking of love - I found this photograph, taken on the preceding afternoon.
Steve had just met Toby Too for the first time...
Toby Too likes to take his time to get to know people and yet here he is snuggling up to Steven, after just ten minutes, as though he has known him forever. Poor Steve looks dreadfully ill in this photograph.
Do dogs show empathy? I think so.
Moving on, my next post will be somewhat cheerier.
Ming Ming very kindly gave me lots of photographs before she and Jonny returned to China, I hope to share some of these with you. I may even get around to showing you some of the wonderful meals which she cooked for us - thanks, Ming Ming! x