I confess that I was beginning to despair of Gisèle ever knuckling-down to write another blog entry. I know that, during my own lifetime, I could often be somewhat dilatory with regard to this blog - but trying to pin Gisèle down and get her to concentrate on any one thing at a time was proving nigh-on impossible. Betty arrived on Saturday to stay for a week which, I suppose, was a legitimate excuse but whilst Betty slept this morning I made one more attempt to remonstrate with Giz.
"It's been almost a month, Gizzy, and you're building up a backlog of things to write about. It's the last day of the year and you've STILL only done three parts of your holiday diary!"
"Yes." concurred the tiny Parson Jack Russell, at least having the grace to look humble.
"AND you've had a lovely Christmas, a very special time in Herefordshire, and I know you want to write about that."
"Oh yes, I want to write about that very much."
"Well, no-one is going to write it down for you. You've still got some nice stories to tell and photographs to share from your holiday - and that funny misunderstanding with Marnie about the old mines in the hills that you wanted to bark about. Remember?"
"Yes, hihihihiiiii, that was funny! Can I promise to write it tomorrow, Jasper, as a New Year beginning?"
"I don't know, can you?"
The little sweetheart giggled again.
"I write it tomorrow, I promise I will. But Mistress promised that me and Betty could go to play in the woods today, so I will be busy doing that for a bit, then we will be having our dinners, and then a bit of sleep and then Betty has promised to curl my Giz-tuft for me in the evening..."
"I know you won't let me down Giz." I smiled. Despite the potential misgivings of the more cynical reader; I know a great secret. There has been a VERY significant development involving Gisèle and my partner - possibly one of the most important since little Gisèle-Stephanie first took up residence here half-way through 2012.
But before I turn to that I must confess that it has brought me much joy over the past couple of days to see the renewed and continuing friendship between Elizabeth and Gisèle. Despite all that has occurred in the past which could have turned either one permanently against the other, they continue to delight in each others' company - and, I have to bark, that each is much the better dog for their friendship. As a direct result of their acquaintance Betty has learned that not all small dogs are irritants, to be abused and squashed as harshly as possible. She has also learned the great blessing of being freely forgiven for her trespasses and loved for herself; not because the other party has been bribed, persuaded or coerced into enduring her company - but because she is genuinely liked; loved, even. Betty continues, almost daily, to delight in the reality of having a true friend, a friend by choice. Gisèle, in turn, has learned from her relationship with Betty to be more assertive - that she has things to bark which are worth barking and, moreover, worth listening to. Despite the disparity in their sizes, Gisèle has most definitely emerged as the more dominant of the two girls. This has given her confidence in every aspect of her life - from encountering other friends whilst out and about to the knowledge that she is loved and secure in her own home. The development of the friendship between these two unlikely associates has been (and continues to be) both humbling and heart-warming - even for one such as I, whose heart ceased to beat almost two years ago.
And the secret, significant, development? Well - it is not much, I confess. Merely - to some, perhaps, - a throwaway comment at the end of a hard day... Something for which I had been waiting. I confess I thought it would come sooner than it did. I wretchedly underestimated the force of my partner's love for me and her grief at my death. But one night, with no anniversary to make it significant - no pre-determinism nor any mawkishness - it was just a very ordinary mid-week night. No Betty to distract; no pre-conceptions, no burdensome history... Just my partner falling to sleep, Gizzles already snoring alongside her.
And then a murmured goodnight - the words I had waited for since they were last uttered in MY favour...
"Goodnight Gizzy - you're a good girl and I love you."
Happy New Year, my friends, HAPPY New Year.