Life’s complete now there’s another heartbeat in the house

Christine says all she really needed to complete her life was someone else to fuss over

Christine says all she really needed to complete her life was someone else to fuss over - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Columnist Christine Webber realised something was missing in her life as lockdown set in. Now she’s found out just what it was...

Do you ever cast your mind back to January 1st and say: ‘Who’d have thought then that this year would turn out as it has?’ I certainly do.

Sometimes it feels as if the current crisis is a dream, and at others, it can seem like life before Covid-19 was the fantasy. I think we can probably all agree that we’re living in very weird times and also that we’ve mostly been quite good at how we’ve adapted to them. We’re reviewing our ‘before-virus lives’ and wondering why we used to obsess about stuff that now seems supremely unimportant.

And we’re developing new priorities as we respond to this total turnaround in our existences. We’ve been forced into many changes, but plenty of us are using this opportunity to choose to make changes too. We’re emerging like butterflies from a chrysalis, aware that there’s a new order and finding ways to make it work for us.

Now, I write about change all the time. I also make podcasts about it. And I’m contacted regularly by individuals who need help to alter what seem like insurmountable difficulties in their relationships, mood, or work. So, it’s a subject constantly on my mind.

Interestingly though, it never occurred to me that the pandemic would propel me into something new and different. After all, my situation had already undergone a recent and radical transformation which included moving back to East Anglia after losing my soulmate and spouse, buying a house, reconnecting with friends from 40 years ago as well as with many, newer mates in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

And as a naturally energetic person I’d set about building a new life around the one that had gone, and become involved in the arts in the region, joined a couple of committees, started writing a new book and generally kept busy. I figured that my husband no longer had the option to live life to the full, and that I should do it for both of us.

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But, like so many other adults, after about a couple of months of lockdown, despite keeping occupied by working on Zoom and Skype, doing exercise classes online and regularly contacting friends and family, I found myself yearning for all the activities, such as supper with friends and going to the cinema, that were no longer available to us; activities, which I knew, had helped me immeasurably as a bereaved person.

I began to feel less comfortable in my skin. Things weren’t awful but they were different, and my mood was on the low side. I know for a fact that huge numbers of individuals going through a process of loss have had similar experiences. It is, of course, one thing keeping active and positive in normal times, but when you’re thrown on your own company, 24 hours a day, over a long period, it’s a completely different ball game.

So, I did a lot of thinking about my single life and whether it was actually a good thing for me to live alone. But did I want to be in a granny annexe attached to a relative’s house? No. Did I want to live somewhere different where I could share with other single friends? Not really. Did I want a lodger? I didn’t think so. Might I want a new partner? Absolutely not! So, what was to be done? What should I do to alter how I was feeling?

Eventually, I realised that the worst thing for me was I desperately missed having someone special to care for. I had not faced up to that fact before. And now that I did, I knew I had found the crux of my problem because it was painful.

So, I set about making the changes I needed – and as a result, I own the very nice dog who’s asleep at my feet while I write.

If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that I would acquire a pooch before mid-summer, I wouldn’t have believed it. It was on the ‘to do’ list for 2025! These months have changed everything. I have love to offer. I need company at home. And it took a world crisis to make me realise it.

Currently, my new companion is pretty demanding. But that’s fine. I’ve got the time, and we need to get used to each other. We are tiring each other out running around the garden and are both happy animals. This would not be everyone’s solution. A dog, after all, is forever, not just for Covid-19. But when we hit those mental buffers that we all encounter at some stage, we have to find our own way of dealing with them.

I believe I’ve taken the right action for me. I hear myself laughing joyously in a way I haven’t for ages, and my love for my canine friend is so overwhelming it brings tears to my eyes.

There’s another heartbeat in the house. That’s what was missing. Who’d have thought it?