As I write this, it will be three weeks since one giant furball with her drool and saliva left us physically.. And since then I have seen only darkness, inky black darkness, a colour that I didn’t think existed around me and within me.
My Bella, my whole, my whole whole, my daughter, my mother, my life and literally the centre of my universe for almost 10 years and just like that she chose to let go.
Inspite of everything, inspite of the suffering she was going through from the past 6 hours in the emergency room with an emergency surgery due, her second surgery in a month, she sat tall, royally, her head up with the IV’s stuck in her and blood tests taken, a curiosity as always with her as she saw the hospital come alive in the morning with other furry babies rushing in after a deathly silent night when she was struggling. She looked at me with a know it all expression, ‘ Come on Mommy, you of all people shouldn’t buckle, I am used to Daddy being a mush ball but not you really?!’ But those rare times, Mommy can become one mushball ready to give it all up, you see.
I have seen so many deaths since I was a child, when my grandmother died in my lap sleeping with the whole family present and I was 11 years old crying and not comprehending all at once. What does death mean to a 11 year old especially a loss, whom you are close to and you know they will never come back? I had vivid real dreams of her visiting me, morbid dreams of wanting to dig her grave so I could see her one last time.. That was my first experience with loss. As they let her coffin down into the grave and closing the casket, I remember crying loud holding my arm out as if that would stop it all..
Over the years through my chequered life which very few and I mean 3 closest ones know about, I have experienced it all.. Trauma, pain, violence, physical and mental through it all I managed to hold onto my self and come out of that tunnel. And losses kept happening, whether it was the loss of innocence, trust, to death. One after the other. But my mind and heart is such a stubborn one, it refuses to give up, I am painfully irritatingly a die hard optimist. It got me through my darkest days of violence and abuse and if I got through that, then everything else seemed ok.
Being an only child which I reiterate time and again is a blessing. Period. No matter what it made me resilient, independent and emotionally taking care of much older parents at a pretty young age. So by the time I turn 35 and I see both my parents are no more, it led me to a void. No amount of friends, loved ones, relatives could get me to see the light. Nothing. How does it feel to be uprooted? To know there is no one else to talk about your childhood days? No one to reminisce with? It feels hell and shitty. And just as I was about to disappear, came a furball exactly a year after my mother passed away..
Bella. My Bella a Saint Bernard girl who used ( still seems crazy to put her in the past tense) everything in her power to distract me. From sleepless nights to wanting 24/7 attention to seeing her walking her first steps down the stairs to staying awake with her whole night as she whined. And she succeeded, she brought me back to life. She showed me that yes, life is full of shit, it is hopeless, it’s filled with cruel species called humans that makes you want an apocalypse right now to end this human pieces of shit that have ravaged the earth YET, life is beautiful when you omit the white noise, when you see the eyes of an animal, when you stop and see the birds, touch a tree, or just breathe in air.
THEN you will see the few kindred spirits around you, the few humans that bring back hope in you. That keep trying to make the world a better place. They are not outwardly visible, they are not big nor do they do tom tom about their social work but quietly surely they go about life.
And so it is, my girl saw my anguish to my struggles, she saw and experienced everything I was going through.. You think animals are not evolved? When I communicated with her through a dear friend, the insights I got beats any Sage or teacher that I could have got from. She was the comfort giver of our small family. It was her and only her. Nora my second one knew it that it was first Bella then her and she accepted it for Bella was her comfort giver too.. Her presence her constant talking since she woke up till we slept kept us alive and kicking every minute, every hour and every day.
And then this huge looming presence, my life, my biggest love made her last journey.. on a day when the whole country was lit up with lights and crackers. On a day when I saw joy and laughter around me as we parked the car at our home and made Nora and my littlest one Leo meet her for the last time…
I saw Saicharan, this guy who used to take my girl for walks for 8 years and was now with her on her final journey, I could see what she meant to him as he welled up, placing her head on his lap and stroking her throughout our end journey.
We had to do this, take her to her favourite place, the village, the ancestral house with the big compound and an open sky which she loved and it was only because of her we would stay there for days on end. Srini opened the car door, under the open sky and said, ‘ Nanna, we came to your favourite place’, and there she was under the open sky, birds chirping and the courtyard..
Her samadhi is the most beautiful place and setting I have seen.. under a tree, in our land with the setting sun as I tied her favourite collar around her with her leash next to her, we let her down slowly.. and it all came to me like a jolt, I became that 11 year old, that helpless child that was grieving a irreplaceable loss and not comprehending it one bit.
There were hordes of people waiting to say goodbye to Bella because she was popular around town and I saw other villagers showing me pictures they took with her whenever we would come to the village..
What do you do when you see the empty seat in the car? What do you do when you come back to a house that has one less? WHAT DO YOU DO? I curled up onto my bed holding the blanket she was wrapped in post surgery and went into darkness. And in every way, now I am in that foetal position.
Yes I get out once a while, yes I cycle, yes I eat, try to sleep and do things like a clock but I know I am not the same person anymore. I can’t go back to that ever. This time, I am embracing the grief, wholly, in every way. In many ways this has changed me, I questioned a lot in my relations with people, and with myself.
I have lost my child, so for those of you, imagine, just imagining the loss of your child would kill you inside, the only difference is mine is a four legged one and a love that was unconditional.
It took me a lot to write this, and the big reason I am writing this, is for so many fur baby parents out there, embrace your grief, express your loss, feel what you are feeling, your loss is no lesser than losing a human.. I accept my grief wholly, totally, For they rescue and protect you in ways that your partner/spouse/ family/ friends can’t. I am a living example of it.
In her limited time, Bella taught me patience, resilience, gratitude, looking at the world with hope, believing in the goodness of living beings, she made me slow down, to stop running inside my head and heart. She grounded me like a mother, telling me, ‘ Stop punishing yourself all the time, it’s not your fault, you got to live it one day at a time.’
I write this now in our ancestral house and before I go to visit her samadhi and sit beside her. This was an outpouring that maybe was meant to be.
Please remember a day in a dog’s life is something humans won’t get in their lifetime, it is a privilege, a blessing that God had decided to only hand it to them. ❤️💔