Nothing prepares you for death. Not even death before. It can hit you in so many ways. It was pointed out to me yesterday that I am one who puts on a brave face, nothings wrong, I am ok. Its cool. No worries. But deep down, inside, I may not be a true reflection of that.... I am so good at it, at “acting” (also pointed out to me when I really didn't even know I was doing it!! thanks @douglasheel)that I even fool myself. I struggle to tune in, to know or show myself even what I am really feeling. The deep nitty gritty feeling of whatever uncomfortable emotion it may be. Fear, sadness, anger, overwhelm, disappointment, it may even be a few of these at once. But back to death, loss. It has featured in my life like many others I am sure. Yet still I am told by others I have had a lot of it....surely everyone has lost a lot....over the years. Yes mine started at an age when I was not ready, the biggest most shocking loss I have known. But before that came loss, my family lost grandparents and parents before I lost my brother. I had known my mom's sadness before, yet maybe this is why I felt her sadness the most when my brother died. It was literally the first word that came from my mouth; MOM! NO! at the news of his accident. There had been accidents before, James had hurt his knee. There had even been police at our door before telling my parent's his car had been found, maybe just a silly mistake of not taxing it over in france....but it had happened. Yet this time, when the police came, told us there had been an accidnet, this accident was different. It meant we would never see him again. How can that be? How is this fair?? He was....is....my hero!! Not just a torn ACL this time. No more would he come home for a few days between adventures and want to stay in my room whilst I was away.... I bring this up, because I have just picked up the ashes of another big loss, massive heartbreak and overwhelming hole left behind by a soul who was totally my rock throughout all my other losses (Mom, I may not have written about it in this particular story so far, but your loss was felt just as hard). Busta, my angel dog. My shadow. My best friend. My healing dog. He was my one in a million. He was the love of my life. He stayed with me until it really was no longer possible, and actually necessary...although it still felt like a band aid that was ripped too soon too quickly. Each time you experience a loss, it reminds you of parts of the previous ones that may not be healed. You can never be prepared for the little things, opening the box, looking inside at a little wooden urn that must be filled with you. What is left of your physical being. The physical, fluffy, soft, and cuddly thing that you were. Full of life, always there to make me giggle, smile, play, bring joy and happiness to me, cuddle me when I was sad and needed to know I wasn't alone. How can all of you be in there. I thought today would be a good day to do this. To collect you! You are not of course there, or you any more, not as I once felt you, snuggled in a tiny ball despite your long legs, curled into the space in front of my tummy and above my thights when I slept. Close and touching always. My heart literally aches now at the thought of that beautiful moment. One I had so many times I cannot count. One I never took for granted, especially in the final years, I knew and tried to prepare myself for many many months and years of the day I would have to say goodbye. Yet I knew somehow it would be my biggest test to date. Losing my brother was a shock I could never foresee. Loosing my mother a shock I knew would eventually come, even if it came too soon and abruptly. But losing you, well I knew I would have to find strength from deep within. You had been by my side, my guide. You had healed parts of my I never thought possible. You had given me years of unparalleled devotion and love I could only attempt to mirror back to you and show others. I knew at the end you would need me to be there, and honestly, I never thought it would be possible. How do you even do that....how did it fall to me to make a decision as to when. But then again, you saved me from even this atrocity....you took that out of my hands. You made it so easy. As easy as this could ever be. And yet here I am, still missing you every day. Never forgetting when you chose to go away. But I know that you are not far. I know you sent us Mali, the mad pomchi so that we could laugh. I know you are part of my angel team. And with you up there, wow, what a team of dreams. I have it all, I have the best protection. My guardian angel team is strong, there is so much connection. I feel it every day, when I look up at the stars, we met before, we will meet again, it is written in the records. My protector you were down here and still are. It doesn't matter that you're body has left, you are never far. So, yes, I wasn't prepared for collecting your ashes, like I am sure, I won't be ready to let them go. But the fact that I managed to say see you later (never goodbye) when you needed me to, shows me how far I have come. It is a constant daily battle, to simply let things be. It is all happening as it should, divine timing, the universe is constantly showing me. I am trying my hardest to listen, to step up when I need to. And I only hope this can help you see, that maybe too, so can you.