The month began slow and lazy, having just spent the weekend at home doing homey things. For the next week my life continued that pace and mostly involved attempting to cook Korean side-dishes (and failing); having a mildly messed up tummy (from a sudden change to eating a vegan diet 4-5 days a week? I'm not sure still); the arrival of my much-mentioned Vetements hoodie and transition into wearing it all the time; a quiet evening in a new pub with friends I don't get to see often enough; a chill meeting with Magpie Magazine and coming together of minds (I'm going to LFW for them!); a day brunching and being awed by Dun Laoghaire's great beauty in the sun; and drinks with my bestie.
Then it was time to hustle and the following week was more about getting my shit together. I wrote a piece about Maser's Repeal mural being painted over and making the repeal movement more visible through clothing; attended the Heatons AW16 press day; put together a lookbook; started applying for LFW shows in earnest; ran errands I'd been long putting-off and got slightly inappropriately angry at "W" (my current favourite - maybe all-time favourite - k-drama) being delayed a week for the Olympics; hung out with my parents; dealt with plumbing issues in the flat and welcomed a seriously awesome VIXX comeback.
The hustle level didn't drop the following week as I tried to get loose ends tied up in work ahead of the holiday; cooked for a pal; met Sarah for tea and introduced her to SNOW (a super-cute Korean version of Snapchat); and packed, bought new reading materials and got the flat ready for being empty.
Which is all why said holidays were majorly necessary. I hadn't had more than three days off in a row since Christmas and I needed time to recuperate, eat good food and spend quality time with the loved ones. We all hopped in the car and drove down to Spanish Point in Clare for the week and, while the weather was ominous the first day, were extraordinarily lucky in how beautiful it turned out to be. Nowhere else is quite like Ireland when it's sunny and, on the exceptionally rainy West Coast, we managed to get five days of beach weather.
Last year's holiday in Westport was basically an eating tour where my brother and I spent our time researching, planning, talking about food and then enjoying it. This year was less about the food (though good food was had) and more about the activities. Our first foggy night was spent in the cute pub in the hotel next to our house: discovering a delicious local cider, playing with Snapchat, actually getting into the trad sesh and giggling at Daddy getting tipsy with James. It's exactly the kind of evening my dad loves and considering how hard that man works, it's lovely to see him unwind. The following day we played tourist in nearby caves, marvelled at the majestic natural beauty of the Burren, sampled food in a farm shop, smelled scents in a perfumery and bought fudge.
When we woke up on Monday, it was like we were in a different country. The weather was exceptional and James and I explored the amazing rock formations just outside our house, by the beach, before I had my first surfing experience - the first of many that week. My stupidly dainty hands were destroyed, I didn't manage to stand up on the board and my whole body ached after but it was great fun. We all kind of caught the bug and went most days as we could walk down to the beach and rent gear within a few minutes. The day after we took a cruise out to the Aran Islands, went on a pony and trap, explored a shipwreck, went looking for seals, bought more fudge, saw the Cliffs of Moher, failed to spot puffins, walked down memory lane with Dad in Doolin (where he'd gone on a trip as a young man), had storytime in the car, found a castle and had dinner in the hotel with the sun setting over the ocean and blazing in the sky behind us. The rest of the week involved lots more beachside fun, playing around with a kayak Dad had bought for us, walking along the top of the Cliffs of Moher and fancy dinners out.
The final morning, we got up and finished packing and Dad brought my sister, mother and I to a spa nearby for deep-tissue massages and lunch. I was so relaxed I even managed to nap in the car on the way home - a highly unusual thing for me. It was that same day that we discovered how ill Belle had gotten. It's hard now not to blame ourselves for the fact that we were off having fun while she got sick, for not thinking more of it when our cousin said she wasn't drinking as much as usual when he was minding her. It's hard to imagine the house without her, to think of her buried alone in the ground. I haven't been home since the day we put her down and it doesn't feel entirely real to me as a result. I kind of dread experiencing how empty the house must be.
I won't lie, the crash in emotions has exhausted and devastated me but the only way I can cope in moments like these is to let my sad moments happen when they must but otherwise act okay until I actually am okay. If I keep moving forward, one day I'll pause and it won't be quite so hard. I've stuffed myself with k-drama to keep the bad thoughts at bay, I've talked it out with pals, spent time with the people I love and who always keep me going and attended press events as per.
The only positive that I can take away, and end on here, is that the people around me continually surprise me in the best possible ways. My friends are incredibly thoughtful and supportive. My brother and I are closer and united in grief. My sister, who I often feel doesn't like me very much, is actually someone who will hold me as I wail in times of sorrow. My parents are rocks and so full of love. My colleagues are considerate and understanding. This was a terrible thing but Belle lived a full and happy life and I will be okay.
Now I just need to keep telling myself all that....