Our lives are forever changed. Rob misses his daily walks and hardly knows how to start his mornings. For several days after she died, I continued to hear Babe barking, not protractedly, just an occasional 'woof.' It was both disconcerting and comforting.
This past week Rob was away overnight for work, as he frequently is, and I was alone in the house. I realized just how companionable Babe was, particularly when a horrific storm of freezing rain and high winds interrupted sleep at 3:00 a.m.. Formerly, just having her at my door would have been reassuring. Now I found I could not sleep at all and finally got up and spent the rest of the night sweeping up and folding laundry. The house is empty.
Babe is linked to all of the memories of our lives over the last fifteen years. There was the time we had a fire in our Edwardian house in Orillia and we thought that Babe had succumbed. What a relief when the firefighters found her. Covered in soot, she came bolting out of the family room straight out the front door and raced around the house at breakneck speed, barking her lungs clear. Then there was the time, a couple of years later, when she wore a pink ribbon for my daughter Sarah's wedding day in October, 1999. Not two years later, she was part of the nursing team during my father's last illness. She sat patiently beside his chair, comforting him, licking gently the thin yet familiar hand that had petted her for years.
Rachael drew a picture of Babe and God looking down on us from heaven. God was a bright yellow cloud and sun and a rainbow. I added a sketch of a young Great Grandpa Ballantine playing in the eternal fields with Babe. Rachael called her picture 'Babe's Banner', and it has hung for a week in the breezeway where Babe rested in warmer weather.
We will not own another 'pet.' We travel too much. Our lives are far too busy for us to be the ideal companion humans. And we are getting older. Another 15 year old dog just might outlive us! My brother reminds me that there are still more than enough dogs in the family to keep us company. He knows that in my heart, no dog could replace Babe.