Always at my side

I sit on the stairs that lead to the front door of my grandparents‘ house and try to collect myself. When was the last time I was here? It must have been many years. Nothing is what it was then. My grandparents were long dead. Now my aunt lives in the house, but that’s not why I hate coming here. Because even back then, when they were still alive, nothing was as it was before. Before then, it was a happy time for me, those first years of my existence. I actually grew up here with a black spaniel by my side for as long as I could remember.

„Asta“, I heard myself greet the little black cocker spaniel lady in my memory, who was already running towards me, wagging her tail, happily, „It’s so nice that you are here.“ To not only say it, but also my joy to show, I stroked her extensively. Then we went for a walk. When I was sad, I would hide under a weeping willow, the branches of which reached down to the ground, providing a hidden hiding place. From prying eyes and questions like that. Only little Asta was with me. She didn’t ask or demand anything, just put her head on my legs. It was good that someone was just there and accepted that you didn’t want to talk about a pain. “Now finally tell what’s going on and if you don’t tell, then nothing can be wrong. Then don’t look like that either. You don’t even know how well you are”, my grandmother used to say.  So, I hid with my sadness. Often it is enough just to be there. But a lot of people don’t understand that. As much as I loved my grandparents, I couldn’t imagine a house without Asta. And then came the day when I opened the garden gate, but no dog rushed towards me. I had been looking forward to this visit all week, but then there was only emptiness and silence, oppressive emptiness and silence. „Well, she will sleep,“ I tried to calm myself down, because she was already very old at the time. So I went into the house and searched everything, but I couldn’t find her. I finally asked my grandmother about it.
„Where’s Asta?“ I asked her.
„We had to put her to sleep a few days ago,“ was her succinct answer, „We can eat in 20 minutes.“
I stood there petrified. Put to sleep? Just because? What happened? Why didn’t anyone tell me anything? The questions shot back and forth in my head, but I couldn’t get a word out. Should I sit under the weeping willow? But who would have comforted me? It was so incomprehensible that she was no longer there, but also that it was pretended that nothing had happened, nothing that was worth mentioning. I felt like my heart was tearing apart. Without a word I turned around and left the house. I couldn’t stay anymore, couldn’t stand it because she wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t know where I was going, just that I had to get away from here, including the pain. But how do you escape pain? At some point I got home. My mother opened the door for me.
„What happened? What are you doing there?” she asked with a frown.
„Asta is dead,“ was the only thing I could say.
„I know,“ said my mother simply.
„And why didn’t anyone tell me anything?“ I finally exclaimed, as if I had just found the language again.
“We didn’t want to upset you”, my mother said succinctly, “Do your grandparents know where you are? You will worry.“

Without answering, I went to my room and locked the door behind me. I felt betrayed by people who didn’t seem to care how I was doing. And should I believe they were worried? I sit and think about that terrible day. Of course, it got easier over time, but I didn’t go to my grandparents for a long time. Even today I see the little girl I was, feel her pain and her abandonment. In the end I get up and ring the bell. Perhaps it is also good to have seen that Asta was there, always by my side.

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