*Please note this post was originally posted in February 2008

The tenth of February.  I’ve been dreading this day for a long time as it would have been my darling daughter’s 21st birthday.  Its our first birthday without her and I think the fact it was her 21st made it so much harder.  She should have been just starting her adult life… but anyway i’ll tell you what we did instead.

I got up in the morning and lit a candle and wished her a happy birthday.  I knew we couldnt  stay at home all day as it would have been too hard.  Our hospice nurse said that its better to plan to do something on the day so I packed up a flask and we set off for a day at the seaside.

We went to Mablethorpe.  It was a gorgeous sunny day for the time of the year.  We were surprised to find so many people there!  Dogs are allowed on the beaches for another month or so and the good weather had enticed everyone out.

We took our dogs, Kara and Josh.  Josh is just eleven months old and is still in that daft puppy stage.  He can’t sit still for a minute.  We got them on the beach and let them off the leads.  It was full steam ahead everywhere, they were running at full pelt in all directions!  We walked down to the sea but as you can see from this picture, the tide had left a huge puddle.  Alex (my 16 year old son) only had his trainers on so mum had to come to the rescue!

Not bad to say he’s six foot.  We were half way across and my legs were buckling and the water was coming in the top of my wellies when he had the cheek to say ‘hurry up mum, someone may see us’!  I felt like dropping him head first…. bless him!

By this time it had all got too much for Josh and he was just bouncing.  Literally bouncing around.  He had visited every doggie family on the beach to say hi and then rushed back to us with a daft grin before spotting someone new coming down the steps and off he’d go again.

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This is my favourite picture of them.  Josh is the one with the ball.  Its Kara’s expression that makes me smile though as I’m so pleased to see her enjoying herself.  When my daughter passed away, my friend gave me Kara to help get me through the days.  She does a fine job.  She never leaves my side and she looks at me with such an admiration and love that I feel guilty if I go to the shop and leave her.

The family have told me she just sits at the front door waiting for my car to pull up on the drive.  I know dog owners will understand what I mean.  I’ve never had a pet before and couldnt understand the concept of ‘mans best friend’  Now I see it every morning when I come down the stairs and Kara almost faints with excitement at seeing me again!

So with the light fading we packed up for home.  We were exhausted but smiling at a day that should have been so different if life had been fair…