Going back to my childhood home after a long stretch of time away, is in my opinion, one of the most difficult yet wonderful things. It reminds you of things that you have and things that you have lived without. Things that were and now gone. Things that still matter but you have forgotten. The last few holiday have prevented me from visiting my childhood home and as a result, I missed my chance of seeing my childhood dogs Taro and Chester who unfortunately passed away a while back.
My mum, determined to keep me in the dark as possible, finally admitted to their passing the day before I was due to arrive in Jakarta and my auntie accidentally told me they were gone. I think I actually knew they were gone but I was happily in denial when my mum told me otherwise. The day I found out, I cried for about 4 hours, fell asleep, woke up and continued to cry. Especially for my pink-nosed Taro, my very first dog that was less of a dog and more of a friend. He was my best friend and I had to leave him behind when I moved to Australia.
The day before Taro’s death, I had dreamt about seeing him again and taking him for one last short walk. In my dream, I had to carry him home because he got too tired to walk the whole way round the running track near my house in Indonesia. When I woke up, I told my mum I wanted to go back home soon so I could see him before he passes. At that time, my cousin Nana was in Jakarta visiting Taro and she sent me the photos above of him and Chester. The very next day, my mum received a phone call from my auntie who told her that Taro had passed away in his sleep. He was 18 years old, seemingly healthy and I am starting to accept that it was just time.
I guess we had our goodbyes in my dream but it would have been better in person. I hate thinking that they were waiting for me to come back for one last time and for a while I kept thinking that I let them down but I can’t beat myself up for it, this is life. The ending makes it all the more precious.
When I got to Jakarta I asked everyone about how they died, where it happened, where they were buried. I visited each spot that I could remember where they used to play, nap, eat and roll around to be petted. It was easy enough to forget and expect them to be around the corner. But it really helped, remembering their life, celebrating their fun, crazy, dopey moments.
I visited the place where they were buried. I was told they were buried under banana trees, so off I go to the garden and spotted the only banana tree in our garden, so I began talking in that general direction. Halfway through my crying and apologising for my absence, my friend Nawang told me that they were actually buried under where the old banana trees used to be. So basically I spent a good 20 minutes crying and apologising to random banana trees. With little care for my pride, I turned towards the patch of land where they were buried and started rattling off again.
I know that losing the dogs is nothing close to what it’s like to losing a relative or a friend, a human. But to me, they are my family. I still find it difficult to acknowledge their passing. I am crying while writing this post. It probably doesn’t help that I am listening to James Blunt and about 80% of his songs are sad songs!
If you are going through the same thing whether it’s your dogs, cats, your family or friends, I am sorry and I know it’s hard but this is life. This is what makes life precious, what gets us going every day. We get up and try because we know one day it will end. Cry, throw things, get angry, listen to sad songs, write a blog about it, do whatever it is to make you feel. The worst thing you can do is to not allow yourself to feel. At the end, just remember you have a whole lot of life to live, you will laugh again, like I have about talking to banana trees. There will be days where you just get randomly sad and start crying. Let yourself cry because that is what you need at that particular moment, feel your grief, don’t be consumed by it. You can grieve for your whole life but don’t stop living. Life is short and before you know it, someone will be grieving for you. Give them something to celebrate.