Grief is an odd thing. It becomes familiar, and its familiarity is resentful. It resents my return to old haunts. It jumps out from behind an invisible bush, chastising me for daring to put myself somewhere - without the dog. It pokes spitefully as I walk down a familiar path. Reproaches as I gaze at a particular view. Reprimands for waking up alone. Scolds in the silence of an empty house.
The first times were the worst: then I became accustomed. But now, with every new twist and turn of the seasons, grief seizes its opportunities to pierce me again with sorrow. A change in the light, the smell of flowers, a memory of cut grass, the mallards which roam unhindered across the lawn - all bringers of a spring without Mpira.
I know the first year of loss is the worst. I know I have to reach, journey through and emerge from each new month. To experience it for the first time without him. Then, next time, grief's misery is lessened, paled, diluted, diminished.
All this over a dog.