I didn’t know whether to write this post or not. The death of someone you love…what’s there to say? Others can hear about it, and genuinely sympathize. But they won’t know. They can’t. So what’s the point? If the goal of writing is to convey feelings and emotions, then this is an exercise in futility. So I’m going to talk to you Poppy – and only you. I’ll try and say what I’ve been feeling for the past week since your life winked out. Since your song ended. Since your book was closed.
First and most important. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you as your life slowly left you. I was on the other side of the planet and there was nothing I could do. No…that’s not true. I could have come back. I knew you were dying. After all, 3 years for me is one fifth of your life. I was away and chose not to come back because it would inconvenience me too much. My god, what a terrible thing to say! My god, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
And yet if I could do it all over again, would I have done it differently? The cold logical part of my head says no. That I would still have chosen to stay here because it was just too much of a hassle. Visa issues. Moving issues. The plane ride back. As I write this I realize what an asshole I am. Does it mean I didn’t love you enough? If that’s true, then why do I feel so terrible? Why am I wracked with guilt? But I can deal with that. I know that life’s not always black and white and that not all decisions are straightforward. I can forgive myself. But I’m glad that you never knew. That to you, out of sight was most likely out of mind, especially since you were already surrounded by people who loved you. You didn’t need me. And for that I’m eternally grateful. My fondest hope was that in your last days you never remembered me, never asked “Where is Bhagwad?” Because that would have been too much to take.
It was 15 years ago when you walked into our house. I don’t know what fate made you choose us. Maybe it was because our gate was never locked and it was easy for a straggling and lost puppy to just slither under. Then I’m glad for our horrible gate. It heralded the start of an era that would last well over a decade. I was often away – college, work, the US. But you Poppy were always at home, ready to welcome me back with your tail, whines, and prancing.
That first night you were terrified of our dog Steffi. As she towered harmlessly over you, you yelped and yelped and that caught our attention. Who knew what you had suffered before you came to this last refuge with bite marks all over you. Where were you born? Who was your mother? I’ll never know. I spent that night with you the clinic with my hand in my box to keep you company. Maybe that was the reason for your life long devotion to me. We had no intention of keeping you yet – oh no. We were still new to dogs and didn’t want another one. So we tried giving you away – twice! And both times you were returned to us. What sweet luck :)
Light on your feet, sprightly with a tail that wagged half your body. It was as if there was so much joy that your tail couldn’t contain it all and had to ask the rest of you for assistance! And when Anupa became part of my life, you welcomed her in with the same love you showed me. You knew before any of us when we were coming back from work. Your ears would perk up, your tail would thump, and you’d stand with nose pressed to the door. No one could doubt your welcome. No one would question your motives.
When I left you last, I knew I might be seeing you for the last time. I knew it then. So why does your death hit me every time I think about it? Was I not prepared? Do I not remind myself of death every day? So what is it?
All I know is that you’re in the past. How strange that sounds! You can’t be…you just can’t! I’m not used to thinking of you in the past tense. You’ve always been part of our home. Poppy. Home without Poppy. Not right. Just not right.
I can’t come to terms that I’ll never see you again. Never see your slightly crooked paw, never see you lying in the sun with your forelegs regally crossed over each other. Death seems so mundane…so…beneath you. I never thought it would be like this.
And now you’re no more. As if you never were. You live only in our memories now. I’ll keep you alive with me, I promise. When the sun shines on my face, I’ll drink a toast to you. I’ll live for both of us – right until my own song ends. Because you’re a part of me now. That’s what you’ve left behind. Not a house, or cash, or jewels. Only memories. And in that you’ve surpassed me. No one will remember me the way so many remember you. I know you don’t care. But it’s true.
I love you Poppy. And you’re gone. How do I get used to that? It doesn’t make sense given that I spent so much time away from you. I guess it’s because to you, I was always part of the family. No matter how long it was, you knew. I was loved unconditionally. That’s so precious. So rare. Thank you.
Thank you so much.