Parenting is a voluntary duty which lasts a lifetime. To choose to become a parent is a big responsibility and one that should be considered and weighed before the decision to procreate, or in some cases, expand the family with a four-legged friend, is made.
In my case, my first touch of parenting came without much preparation. Nonetheless, it was something we had thought of, and in fact dreamed of, for quite some time.
Not all may believe the form we chose counts as parenting, but in our hearts, we surely felt a great shift occur the day our Labrador-Retriever Emma came into our lives.
From the moment we met, we clicked. She chose us and on our very first encounter, she nestled in my lap. That was it. That unbreakable bond was created and it has only grown stronger since.
The days leading up to her arrival were long and we spent money on all the things a puppy needs and more. Like parents nesting for the arrival of a child, we prepared and the day we picked her up we felt the thrill of excitement one feels when a big shift occurs in life.
We were nervous, in particular me who at the time had no experience with dogs. I had no idea where to start but thankfully my husband was a little more seasoned and for the first 10 days of her life, he taught her the basic tricks.
We woke up every three hours to take her out, and in between, we nestled with her in our bed and played with her whenever we could. Our home went from being quiet to being a playground for our Emma.
In the process of growing up, she destroyed a few pairs of shoes, redesigned the coffee table in the living room, and best of all, made every day a good day.
Last week, on June 9 to be precise, she turned three years old. It’s hard to believe it’s really been three years since she came into our lives. It feels like she has always been a part of our family and yet, it seems it was only yesterday that she was a puppy.
Nowadays, she is no longer the toddler puppy that needs to be fed and trained and taught the ways of life. No, she is a sweetheart, my dearest companion, and life without her would be a disaster.
Life would be an empty void.
These words were typed onto an overworked MacBook Pro on June 11, in the very early hours of the morning, I sat alone at Kastrup airport, drinking a tall latte at Starbucks in Terminal 2.
Tired after a too-short-for-decent-sleep overnight flight from Keflavík International airport, my thoughts turned to her, often and fondly. Waiting for my connection to Athens, I had about three and a half hours to spare until I could drop off my luggage at the appropriate location. Delaying the inevitable journey from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3, I was acutely aware of how alone I was.
After my husband left for Athens on Monday morning last week, I would wake up to her nestling on my shoulder, her soft fur warming me on the cold summer mornings, and in response, I reciprocated the affection by gently scratching her tummy and cheeks, and holding her paw as we both fell asleep again.
I love my morning yoga classes, but when I wake up with her by my side like this, the choice is a piece of cake.
I miss her dearly, a feeling mixed with an excitement for my holiday in Greece, a country where I spent two summers and loved every minute of it. I am also relieved to be away from Iceland, away from the drama of recent weeks.
All the worrying and madness went away as I got to Keflavík International airport. I felt happy I was going back to Greece at last – although a little frustrated with the current lack of seating at the airport.
Even though I heard Icelandic resounding in the background every now and then in Kastrup, I still felt like I was away, the same way I used to feel when I lived in London or Paris, a part of the great world again.
But one thing has changed, and that is my heart, a heart bursting with love for Emma and my little family.
Emma has truly taught me to love unconditionally.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]