Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Closure...sort of....

I thought I'd take a walk today. After a stormy night, the day is a perfect July day in Peoria! Thought it would be fun to walk in the park by our old house, the house we lived in for a brief 11 months before we moved to China. Set off quite cheerfully - and was totally unprepared for the staggering onslaught of memory - a visceral, gut-wrenching memory that literally left me gasping. For as I walked past what used to be our backyard, there she was - on the deck, tail thumping, ears twitching, waiting for us to get back home. There again, snuffling in the grass, loping to the gate to welcome us. And again, a streak of white by the lake, running back to us. And in a flash, I was back in the vet's office - a summer day much like today, the trust in her brown eyes fading away, a last wag of her tail, twitching paws stilled forever. I sat down on a bench, struggling to gain control - finally gave up and kept walking, tears streaming down my face as I kept feeling the tug of an imaginary leash - oh Ajey, where is our beautiful baby now?

I hadn't expected it to be so hard. After 2 years, I thought I was at the point where I could think of and talk about our Snowy without crumbling into a mass of raw emotion. But then, we never really had any closure here in Peoria - we left for China the day right after, and I think what kept me functioning  then was Sunny - making sure he was ok on the flight over, settling him in the new house. Losing Snowy almost seemed like a bad nightmare - surely she was waiting for us to come get her in some vague, undefined place, and soon, very soon we would. Yes, denial. Denial which was relatively easy in China, denial which has sustained me for the last 2 years. Now back in Peoria, I'm reliving her last summer, when we were literally counting down the days left to her - the nerve-wracking anxiety, the choking sadness, all those doubts and conflicting thoughts, all the what-ifs...

When Snowy was diagnosed in February, our move to China was already in the works. And although at the time the doctors gave her only 6-8 months, with the medication and diet, she rallied remarkably. She was never visibly sick - and that actually made it harder in the end. Right until we made our house-hunting trip to Suzhou, I was convinced everything would work out for the best - we would fly Snowy with us like before, and she would live out the rest of her days with us in China. That trip changed everything - first one thing and then another, and then pretty soon, before we knew it, we were in a spiraling freefall.

 First, the length of the flight - almost 15 hours in the plane, and here was Snowy needing to be fed and medicated every 4 hours. As much as I tried, I could not a flight with 2 legs, so that we could break the journey in Europe, give her a respite. Then we found that United Airlines had revamped their pet transport services - they gave it a fancy new name and description, but the bottom line for us was that our pets would not fly in the same plane with us, but would be shipped as cargo - straight away that put the clock up by at least 4 more hours. Unacceptable, United, totally, unforgivably unacceptable. Then there was some confusion regarding flying both our pets together - someone came up with the brilliant idea that cats and dogs cannot be together on 1 flight. Seriously, a lot of times I felt like I was talking to them through a fog!

The problems with the airline aside, what really broke my resolve to take Snowy with us was the quarantine in China. I thought then, and still do - the quarantine was only a way to extort money, and I was sure that we could get around it by paying. And we did find a agent who would help us - but even after paying through our noses, Snowy would still end up staying at least 1 night in quarantine. The worst-case scenarios were frightening. I kept dreaming over and over again of Snowy not eating on the plane, going into hypoglycemic shock, scared and alone - it was soon clear that I could not put her through so much stress and trauma, I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to her on the flight.

So the inevitable, agonizing decision - the end of this difficult road, the appointment with the vet. We timed it such that we didn't have to say good-bye until the very end. But Peoria and Snowy are inextricably linked - and I didn't realize that until I came back. I can't walk past that house again, the last home Snowy knew. And I'm sure I'm going to be navigating an emotional minefield the next few days - because her memories are everywhere. I'm hoping that this month will lead me to a final acceptance and closure - help me to let go one more time and help me celebrate Snowy's memories, her love in a way she absolutely deserves. Happy trails, my darling, wherever you are - you'll live on forever in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. ----------------------------------
    As much as I loved the life we had and all the times we played,
    I was so very tired and knew my time on earth would fade.
    I saw a wondrous image then of a place that's trouble-free
    Where all of us can meet again to spend eternity.

    I saw the most beautiful Rainbow, and on the other side
    Were meadows rich and beautiful -- lush and green and wide!
    And running through the meadows as far as the eye could see
    Were animals of every sort as healthy as could be!
    My own tired, failing body was fresh and healed and new
    And I wanted to go run with them, but I had something left to do.

    I needed to reach out to you, to tell you I'm alright
    That this place is truly wonderful, then a bright Glow pierced the night.
    'Twas the Glow of many Candles shining bright and strong and bold
    And I knew then that it held your love in its brilliant shades of gold.

    For although we may not be together in the way we used to be,
    We are still connected by a cord no eye can see.
    So whenever you need to find me, we're never far apart
    If you look beyond the Rainbow and listen with your heart.


    Hugs from Polka.