I had a fight with my cousins Aine and Jess today.
I never fight with them.
Not once have we had a serious fight.
But today I am really mad with them.
It is over a dog.
My Uncle Sean’s dog, Rory.
My Uncle Sean is still in hospital. It is unlikely now that he will recover.
When the time comes and he is gone I cannot imagine how hard it will be for all of us to deal with that. But more than that I cannot fathom how hard it will be for Rory to deal with it.
Rory is a 16 year old bitzer of a dog. A bit black Lab, a bit something that could be German Shepherd. Or something much hairier. He has bad arthritis. He is a big dog. It is difficult to manoeuvre him out of Uncle Sean’s house.
So Aine and Jessie who are in charge of hospital trips and feeding Rory have left him in the house. All alone. One of them sees him twice a day to feed and water him. But that is it. Apart from those brief moments he is all alone. Has been all alone for most of the days since Uncle Sean fell ill. And all of the nights.
I am not saying that Aine and Jessie are insensitive to Rory’s plight. I am not saying anyone in the family is. They are doing the best they can in a very trying situation. They have families and commitments of their own. But Rory is a companion dog who has to all intents and purposes lost his master. And he will be wondering what is going on.
And he is all alone.
I remember Uncle Sean’s house in the middle of winter. How the wind spirals up from the North Atlantic and shakes the eaves and whistles under the window ledges. I remember Rory as a pup, how his little ears would move like radar when he heard that wind, how his eyes would widen and how Uncle Sean would say : It’s alright, boy, it’s just the wind.
There’s no one to say that to Rory now.
I begged and cajoled Aine and Jessie to get him out of the house. I pleaded that he no longer be left alone. I can’t forget his little ears moving about when the wind came. I can’t forget his eyes.
But my cousins say they are doing enough, that they are stressed, that Rory is fine where he is, that it will upset him more to be moved at the eleventh hour. That logistically they don’t know how to get such a big dog out of the house.
I get that. I really do. But I can’t forget the ears and the eyes.
And I know the power of that wind.
Such is the tyranny of distance.
If I was in Ireland right now I would be in the house with Rory. I wouldn’t be what he wanted, I wouldn’t be Uncle Sean, but at least he wouldn’t be alone. At least he wouldn’t need to worry when the wind came.
But I am here. So far away I am of no use at all.
All I can do is light a candle and pray to the angels and the pixies and maybe even the leprechauns to watch over this dog who has meant so much to my Uncle Sean for the past 16 years.
And he to him.
All I can do is whisper to my wind which comes from a different ocean but might just be strong enough to turn to a wish or even a prayer that will swirl silently all the way to Uncle Sean’s house.
And all I can hope is that the whisper will say : It’s alright, boy. It’s just the wind.