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Excerpt 'Ghost of a Smile'

I firmly believe that the loss of a much loved pet can be equally as traumatic as losing a loved human. I am especially fond of my readings which feature the return of a pet, no matter what sort, furry, feathered, or otherwise, and it always gives me a great deal of pleasure to answer the inevitable questions that ensue about the survival of animals and their continued existence in the Spirit World.

This book would not be complete without a mention of Harry, my beloved Old English Sheepdog, who shared my life for nine wonderful years. His loss affected me like nothing else in my life ever had before, and coming as it did, at the end of my marriage, it seemed almost impossible to bear.

Trauma and emotional distress encourage the aura to ‘tighten up’ as it were, and do its job of protection in a much more robust manner than usual. It closes around one under these circumstances, rather like a fine, impenetrable plastic layer, and blocks all possible psychic or mediumistic contact until the trauma has passed and the subject is strong again.

I have lost count of the number of people who have told me, usually tearfully, that they cannot understand why a beloved ‘lost one’ has not made some kind of contact, why they have not had a glimpse of them, or become aware of a certain aroma reminiscent of the lost person, or even sensed their presence.

And of course the answer is simply that the protection offered by the aura is preventing such contact, not that the ‘lost’ person is not around, or for some reason does not want to, or is prevented from making contact.

Given the passage of time and the calming of the emotional trauma, the aura will relax and return to its normal operation, and then some form of contact with the departed may well be evidenced.

When the vet rang me to say I could collect Harry’s ashes, I walked the mile to the surgery in a daze. It was July, but the weather was not bright, sunny, warm July weather, and there was no hint of summertime sunshine in the sky. It was dull, with a chill in the air, and thin, misty drizzle rolling unevenly in from the sea, dampening everything in its wake. The miserable weather could not have been more apt where my mood was concerned, and I hardly noticed it.

The young veterinary nurses were extremely sympathetic. I was taken aback at the weight of the small box of ashes they handed me, and began to sob as I held it. They hurriedly put the box in a plastic carrier bag, gave me a hug, and waved me off down the road.

It was an attractive main road, lined with cherry blossom trees and a mixture of pleasant houses and bungalows. Under different circumstances I would have enjoyed the walk.

But I have never walked a sadder mile. I cried steadily all the way, simply leaving the heavy, hot tears to roll down my face, not even attempting to dab at them. They blended with the fine rain that had soaked my hair and caused tiny cold rivulets to run down my neck. I did not care.

I wrapped the plastic bag around the box, and held it pressed against me all the way home.

I missed the physical presence of my constant companion. I missed his sense of humour and mischief, his big blue eyes and untidy fringe. I missed his deep, loud bark. I missed Harry.

I knew it was likely to be a long time before I was able to see, hear or sense him around me again, and that very knowledge made me even sadder.

Back home again I sat down heavily on the sofa, coat still on, and cradled the box of ashes in my arms. I could not stop crying. At that moment I felt I would never get over Harry’s loss, never smile again. The fact that I knew, absolutely, that I would one day meet up with him in the Spirit World did not bring me any respite from the dreadful sense of loss, from the agony of missing him. The silent emptiness in the house pressed down on me. I was miserable.

But of course most of us do get over the loss of a loved one, human or pet, because we force ourselves to carry on with our lives, and because eventually the passage of time blunts the sharp edges of our pain. Eventually we learn how to manage that pain, and although our lives will never be the same, and we will always be aware of an aching emptiness, we carry on. And so it was with me.
A week or so later the phone rang one morning. I did not recognise the woman’s voice that said

“Fiona, is that you?”

“Yes” I said “Who’s that?”

“Oh thank goodness! I’ve been trying to get your number for a week now.”
The caller was obviously quite an elderly lady, with a pleasant voice, and she seemed to know me.

“I saw you, you see, last week, walking down Preston New Road” she went on “and you were soaked, and looked so sad. I had to ring you.”

“Who is this?” I asked again, puzzled.

“It’s Betty Walker, from the Church” she said “I don’t know if you remember me?”

“Oh yes, Betty. Yes, I remember you” I said. Betty was a regular member of the congregation at Southport Spiritualist Church, and I had spoken to her once or twice. Billy Roberts had been President of the Church for a short and tumultuous time, several years previously, so we had spent a great deal of time there then. But I had not been to the Church recently, and had not seen Betty for a number of years. I was surprised to hear her voice, surprised she had phoned me.

“You see, I heard about your separation from Billy” she went on “and then when I saw you last week, well….” She paused.

“It’s very kind of you to ring Betty, but I’m fine, really” I told her, trying to put some enthusiasm into my voice.

“I was driving past and saw you – I couldn’t stop, there’s no parking there, it’s such a busy road….But I saw you were crying, and I just wanted to give you a hug and tell you that things will get better.” She sounded rather breathless, as if she wanted to tell me everything as quickly as possible. Maybe she was unsure how I’d react. Maybe she thought I wouldn’t want to talk to her.

“Thank you” I said “I do appreciate you phoning”

“And how nice that you’ve got your dog for company” she said.

My stomach lurched, and I started to explain, to mumble

“Well, actually….” but Betty went on

“Mind you, he must have been soaked, like you. I suppose you had to towel him dry when you got home? I always think there’s something nice about the smell of a wet dog!”

“Sorry?” I said lamely, puzzled, trying to get my head round what Betty had said.

“Your lovely big Old English Sheepdog” she said “He was walking beside you along the road………What a lovely dog he is.”

“Oh” I said “Yes, yes…. he’s a wonderful dog. I’m very lucky.”

I thanked Betty again and said goodbye, just managing to get off the phone before I started to cry. I really should have known that Harry would not be far away from me.

Some time later, when I was able to talk about Harry without tears, I saw Betty and told her the truth. We both giggled. She was glad to have been able to provide some comfort for me at such a difficult time in my life, but she was surprised. Oddly enough, her ‘seeing’ Harry walking with me was a ‘spontaneous’ sighting, and seems to have been a one-off. Nothing like that had ever happened to Betty before. Lucky for me.

 

             




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