LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which I am left in sudden shock

LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which I am left in sudden shock

Today is my first whole day without Gracie being alive in the world.

On Wednesday, the vet nurse let me know Gracie had eaten, been out for a sniff, had lots of cuddles, and was now ready for her CT scan, which required a full anaesthetic.

I tried to keep busy.

I walked my remaining three collies. Mini wouldn’t eat breakfast: she has been at Gracie’s side for 14 years.

I couldn’t Hoover – that would be like erasing Gracie, or as if she had never existed. At about 3pm, Nic called me.

This week Liz Jones opens up about the heartbreak of losing her dog Gracie, and dealing with the grief

‘What’s happened, is she awake?’

‘I’m coming round to talk to you.’

Oh no. Oh God, no.

She turned up, said, ‘You need to sit down.’ She had with her a piece of cardboard, covered in scribbled notes.

‘Gracie is still under anaesthetic. The surgeon, Rory, just called me. He has looked at the scan, and also emailed a copy to another specialist for a second opinion. The cancer is everywhere. A very large tumour is attached to her heart, and is bleeding, which explains why she’s anaemic. She has a tumour on her tonsils, which explains the gagging. A lump in her throat. There is a mass on her spleen.’

I have tears running down my face.

Jones Moans… What Liz loathes this week

  • Gormless people. You say, ‘Could you park on the side of the field, to avoid destroying the hay?’ And they just stare, open-mouthed
  • People who don’t take on board a simple instruction. Nic told the referral clinic that on no account was I to be contacted about the bill, or about Gracie’s funeral arrangements. But of course, on Friday, on the train home at 7pm, having travelled for nine hours for a story that took 15 minutes (I won’t even make a profit), they called me. ‘Have you decided on the type of casket you want for Gracie’s ashes?’ Waahaghghghg!!!
  • Grief. It hits me in waves. In the night, I keep feeling for her hot little body next to me. But there is nothing. Just a void.

‘While she was under, they received the results of the biopsy, and it’s not good. It is either a plasmacytoma or an osteosarcoma. Neither responds to chemo. They could operate, but he doesn’t think she will survive surgery, or ever leave the hospital. He asks if you want him to wake her up, so you can drive there to be with her before they put her to sleep.’

I’d been clinging to the hope

I would get a few more months with her. I’d been on the Waitrose website, ordering her favourite things. Nic starts to cry, setting me off sobbing so hard my throat hurts. 

She has known Gracie since the day I brought her home from Wiccawey’s collie rescue. She was there for the fruitless toilet training, the nipping of walkers, the herding, the chasing of aeroplanes, the trying to cover up the nest she made in my Terence Woodgate sofa.

The shock is so sudden, as Gracie was fine on Monday evening, before she collapsed the next day.

‘Tell them not to wake her up. Tell her Mummy loves her so much.’

Nic goes into another room to call the surgeon. I don’t know the exact moment she slips away. I text my friend Isobel, sending her a photo of Gracie on the bed on her last morning at home, pillows in a cascade in front of her, a trail of gravy bones leading the way, her big eyes looking up at me, shining with love.

I can’t be bothered with anything any more. My WhatsApp pings. A message from David 2.0. ‘I guess it’s more compelling reading your column if I’m a knob.’

Oh, bugger off. They never heed my warnings that they will hate appearing in a column. They always think they can hack it.

Gracie never minded that I wrote she was incontinent and destroyed 14 seatbelts.

Gracie was fine on Monday evening, before she collapsed the next day 

I can’t believe someone so small has done such a big thing: to die, alone, without me. She would groan with pleasure each night when she settled on the pillow next to me, her bottom on my shoulder like a big furry parrot. She really loved being a border collie. She wouldn’t have wanted to go.