Years ago (we won’t work out how many *wince*) when my departure to university was drawing ever nearer, my Mother remarked a few times that she would suffer Empty Nest Syndrome when Freshers’ Week started. Empty Nest Syndrome is psycho-speak for the feeling of sadness or loneliness that parents may feel when their youngsters leave home. I strongly suspect she was tactfully pandering to my feelings, not least because my parents moved house during my very first term at uni – probably an attempt to avoid me ever managing to return! Recently however, I experienced Empty Nest Syndrome myself.
For nearly 8 years I have shared my house with a delightfully impish little ball of furry mischief called Max. The advancing years have shown absolutely no reduction in his ridiculously high energy levels, and it’s a miracle that I haven’t worn my voice out telling (and often yelling at) him not to leap and skid across the sofa. Or not to race round the house rubbing his freshly bathed (and therefore soggy) self against every piece of furniture and rug in the place. Or tutted at myself in annoyance because I’ve forgotten to close my bedroom door after one of the afore-mentioned baths, and have just discovered a wet dog-butt print on my bed.
At the end of August I had to rush Max in to a specialist for emergency spinal surgery following a herniated disc, and he remained in intensive care for just over three weeks. How is it that such a small bundle of fur can leave such a gaping hole in a house when absent? Suddenly my nest felt very empty indeed. There was no skittering of claws on the laminate floor when the post arrived. No frenzied barking when a pigeon had the temerity to land on the lawn. No skanky chewed toy brought excitedly to me when I returned home from work.
The original prognosis was that Max would never regain any movement or feeling in his hind legs and would need wheels to be mobile, and thrillingly he’s since surpassed expectation. Following a rigorous regime of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy he’s beginning to regain a little movement in his thighs. At the moment he shuffles around the house on his bottom, happy as Larry and still surprisingly speedy, and I have a little sling for me to take the weight of his rear end so that we can still go out for walks. The Physioterrorist and I are both quite hopeful that we have some more improvement to come, but he won’t return to full mobility. He may not be able to walk completely unaided, and won’t be able to leap onto the sofa or bed as he so loved to do. I’m still high as a kite to have my little one back home, happy and relatively healthy, but I have had a few moments of fleeting sadness for him at all the things he can’t manage anymore.
The moral of the story? Take a deep breath. Because that thing that you’re about to yell about, the one that’s driving you to distraction, might be the very thing you miss when it’s gone.