The year may not be new any more, but it’s never too late to take stock.
A lot has happened since my last post… a landmark birthday, Christmas, the untimely death of a lovely friend, new year, new hobbies, new pastimes, new friends…. always something going on. So let’s rewind and take a moment.
The first time I met Caroline, I had just run a beautiful clear round with Poppy at an agility competition. Caroline was waiting for me at the finish line. She and Barney had also run a super clear, but she wanted to congratulate us on our achievement. “What teamwork…” I remember her saying.
Caroline and I waited together while the last of the mediums ran the course, to see if we had won a place. Poppy and I took first place that day; Caroline and Barney took second. It was perhaps the only time we ever beat them, but the genuine interest that Caroline always showed in the progress of her competitors won her a place in all of our hearts.
In the months that followed, Caroline and Barney went from strength to strength. Their rise through the grades was rapid and well earned. But after a while, I noticed that each run seemed to take more and more out of her. It was then that Caroline told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I think agility gave Caroline something other than her illness to focus on. She continued to compete throughout her treatments… continued to climb the ranks… continued to show great generosity of spirit and concern for her friends and fellow competitors.
In the summer of 2012, Caroline and Barney qualified to compete at Crufts the following year, but it was not meant to be. On the 29th December 2012, she passed away in the arms of her loving husband Steve. There is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes life just sucks.
Caroline was a beautiful woman in every way and her life was cut cruelly short. The last few times I saw her were at various shows and competitions. I knew the cancer was back, but I always seemed to be rushing to run one or other of my dogs before my class closed. I just didn’t believe that the end was so near.
In retrospect, I think this is the way that Caroline would have wanted it. No long drawn out goodbyes, just a “How did your run go? Are you winning? Ah well… better luck next time.”
My friendship with Caroline has taught me this… none of us knows how long we have got, so let’s all strive to achieve what Caroline had. Value those we love. Make time for the things we love doing. Nothing else really matters.
RIP Caroline. It was an honour to know you. I will remember your spirit of adventure and competition always and just hope that as my own agility career progresses, I will show similar support and inspiration to those who follow me.