6 years ago today, Ringo passed away. It feels like a lifetime ago and in many ways it is because together Ringo and Breeze changed my life almost completely. And now they are both gone, which my brain on some level still refuses to take in.
We learned of Ringo’s cancer towards the end of 2013. That, together with my mother’s advancing illness, sent my stress and depression spiralling out of control. I went to a doctor for the first time in many years, thinking that my blood pressure was through the roof and/or that I was about to have a heart attack the way my heart was racing. It was “just” a panic attack and severe anxiety, but it did convince me to start taking anti-depressants, which I had resisted for…well, decades.
I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of a very different phase of my life. In 2014, our book was published and we welcomed home Breeze, and both these events would have far-reaching consequences. The book through its amazing success and the many interviews, trips abroad and other wild experiences that it led to. And Breeze…well, without Breeze I would not have made so many new friends or become so involved in the Boxer Club through dog shows, training for working dog trials and just living a life with a boxer at the heart of it. We may have had dogs since I was quite young, but my life had never be so completely arranged around a dog as it became with Breeze.
I have always been someone who sees patterns and signs in life. Probably because I am a chronic worrier and the patterns and signs usually support my fears. But even at my most rational I find it hard not to see something in what happened this day six years ago when Ringo’s fight against the cancer ended. We had just said our goodbyes and were sitting in the lobby at SLU in Uppsala, crying. A mail arrived as I checked my phone; our first royalty payment for the book had come in. It would change our lives completely, giving us a level of economic security that we’d never experienced before. Even Elio, who otherwise calls everything just a coincidence, said at the time that it felt as if Ringo had stayed with us until he knew we would be okay.
And we were, for almost six years. But when Breeze passed away as well, it did seem to me like it heralded the end of that era. In another weird coincidence, that first royalty payment was split across five years, with the final year being 2020. From 2021 and onwards, we’re instead drawing a salary from our company. Its a somewhat more modest yearly income than for the past five years, and while that in itself isn’t forcing any changes in our life, the timing still feels like a portent to me.
What it might mean, I don’t know. A new phase in life isn’t necessarily something bad, it is just that a) I don’t do changes very well and b) the last six years have been an absolutely amazing part of my life compared to much of what came before. But maybe a little more quiet again isn’t so bad, as long as I don’t fall back into old habits of not wanting to go places or see people. Winter should hopefully make sure to keep me up and about, even if his favourite activity is cuddling up in bed and acting as the world’s most effective sleeping pill.