BIG LOVE23 March 2020
I was 14 when Mum and Dad brought Billie home.
She was soft and heavy like a bag of rice, and she smelt like honey and straw. On school nights I would lie on my stomach, eyes glued to the computer, with this tiny white creature curled up on my lower back. Her features would be hidden in the folds of her puppy skin. She looked like a little secret.
Billie became a part of our family and bore witness to everything that happened throughout my teenage years. We lived in a two-storey house built in the late ’70s, in the quiet suburb of Greensborough. Over the eight years that we lived there, we renovated our house bit by bit, including stripping paint off the wooden beams downstairs and the doors throughout the house, revealing layers of paint chosen by the previous owners:
Doctor’s Waiting Room Grey
$2 Shop Moisturiser Banana Yellow
Ken Doll’s Outfit Khaki Green
Peter and Gloria (The Ballroom Dancers’) Apricot Pink
When we first moved in, there were patches of Banana Yellow left, contrasted against the overwhelming Grey in the shapes of various pieces of furniture that the previous owner hadn’t bothered to move while she painted on her latest colour. My parents called these neglected areas “portals”.
My teenage years were filled with angst, and when things started to get bad with my brother, I wanted to be able to step into the ‘portals’ to escape the arguing that went on in my house. I wanted to sink into the carpet or get sucked into the bath’s plughole. Instead, I would sit on my bedroom floor and cry into Billie’s fur and she would lick the tears and snot off my hands.
She is still the size of a human baby, but in dog years, Billie is 52.
She is a time capsule. She was my teenage diary, and my stories now remain behind her frantic, black shining eyes. Two Christmases ago, my parents moved to Brisbane and took her with them. When I see her now, I feel this overwhelming desire to envelop her. I can’t squeeze her tight enough as she’s wriggly and wants to play with the ball anyway.
My emotions are uncontainable, boundless and borderless for this tiny, hairy middle-aged-dog-lady. I know that parents often get pets for their children to allow them to experience death and grief before having to eventually go through it with the humans in their lives, but losing Billie will mean that I will have to grieve for part of myself as well.
My Little Vanilla Pudding
Li’l Pig Bat
My Sweet Little Darling
My Little Sister
You are the Physical Manifestation of my Love