Helen House suggested a) stopping trying to feed her, and b) bringing her in.
Which means that three months ago yesterday was the last time I attempted to feed Imi a meal. A quarter of a year ago.
We'd had discussions in the past. We had acknowledged Imi was having increasing difficulty absorbing her feeds. We'd switched to bland blends, and back onto formula, halved her quantities, given her days of rest with no food.
But three months ago today came the realisation that this was it. End of the line. A body worn out.
We stayed in for a couple of days, time to adjust to this new normal. And then came home. And the rest, if you've read this blog, you already know.
Pain. Exhaustion. And then peace. Peace beyond understanding, a peace which surrounded Imi and sustained her for the next month, and a peace which persists and helps me to carry on without her.
Just twelve short weeks ago. And yet it feels light years away.
Eleven weeks ago then, I was sitting with Imi on my lap for what would turn out to be her last cuddle at home. Our lovely respite team arrived, and Imi swapped to sit on our nurse's lap. And I came to The Barns Café, where I had a drink with a friend, whizzed around a Cheistmas craft fair, and sat back in my favourite cosy corner for another drink, when I got the call. And Imi had started fitting, run through all her rescue meds, and needed help.
Today that same nurse is back in our house, giving respite to Amana. And I am back here at The Barns, with my knitting.
I was knitting a shawl then. I'm knitting one now, the third to the same pattern. The first I finished sitting beside Imi, pausing to hold her hand or cream up her skin, as she gently got floppier and drier without fluids. The second I started then. And the wool for this one I ordered still sitting at her side. This pattern is in my fingers now; I can knit it without thought, losing myself in the intricacies of the lacework. I'm not sure I will be able to let it go, to learn a new rhythm on my needles. This wool connects me to those weeks.
Three months. Three shawls. Three hours' respite. Enough for Amana to welcome a change of face. Enough for me, to be able to sit and breathe without my little shadow, working so hard to fill the silence caused by her sister's absence. But a stark reminder of the hole we have now - three hours for the first time in three months, rather than three visits a week for so long. My sociable child is struggling with the emptiness of the house, although she is still working hard never to acknowledge the gap.
An utterly self indulgent post, as I sip a chai latte and watch families of giggling children from my perch on high, trying to avoid overhearing a quiet conversation in a different corner, and being baffled by the rules of Killer Bunnies over the way. Life goes on. Except, sometimes, it doesn't.