“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Dear Suzie,

it’s been slightly more than a month since your passing and I still miss you every single day. The waves of grief are no longer overwhelming – it no longer makes me want to collapse on my bed and cry. It’s true, it does get easier with time but it’s also true that we can no longer be the same again when we lose somebody we love. I don’t think I ever want to be the same again after your passing, because that would mean not loving you. I would never wish that. The pain was overwhelming but it’s the kind of pain that’s worth going through. I never regretted opening my heart up to you and I don’t. However, there are some days where the waves of grief overwhelms me again. It could be as simple as thinking of you or listening to another’s story of their beloved pet – and then I’d come home and find myself sobbing all over again.

As I type this, I am starting to tear. Only because I feel like the ending to my 2015 is a bittersweet one. Losing you was the obvious pit of my year. But God has also been kind – knowing I would lose you, knowing how much that would break my heart, he blessed me with a few small peaks too.

The first was reconnecting with an old and dear friend from my past. I would have never imagined that we’d ever reconnect like that again even though deep in my heart, I have always cared for her. It started with a meal then we decided to work out together and then it occured to me how much I did miss her presence in my life. Isn’t it funny how life works, Suzie? I bet you were all part of this grand masterplan – making sure that we’d all be okay first, tying up lose ends before you had to go. You met her in your puppy days and you met her for the last time this year before you passed away. It’s like things went a full circle.

The second was getting to spend more time with my niece who’s truly wise for her age. I’ve always wanted to go vegetarian and though younger than me, she gave me that courage to become a Pecastarian. She inspired me through her vegan lifestyle. I’ve truly enjoyed my conversations with her – somehow she reminds me of you in a human form. You know that little spark in your eyes when you’re just about to go for a walk, or when you smell apples or rock melon? That spark that I love so much? I see that same spark in her eyes when she talks about things she’s passionate about. She’s got such a strong moral compass and in those ways, she reminds me of you.

The third was this – you know your groomers, the ones you love? They took in an abandoned dog hoping that she’d get along with their dog but unfortunately that didn’t work out. We were all desperately trying to find her a forever home today. The poor girl, she’s been abandoned three times and even went to SPCA. A friend I met during my thesis film shoot responded. Coincidentally, her first dog shared the same name as this dog and to add on further, her family and her were looking to take in a new dog. When she went down to meet her, they connection was almost instant. This was the best news I’ve received today and the best way to say goodbye to 2015. Knowing I was part of helping this poor girl find her forever home and knowing she has one now – it awakened that part of my soul. I can’t quite tell what is it exactly. I’ve always loved animals since you came into my life but since you left us, I haven’t been ready to take in another dog. The whole family isn’t either. But I am ready to help other dogs and animals in any way I can. I know this is what I need to do in life. This is it.

Of all these peaks in my 2015 to counter balance the tremendous pain of losing you, there is one person I need to especially thank. I think you know who it is and you love him quite a fair bit too.

It’s Marion.

Suzie, I’ve been an emotional wreck this year. From the stress of my thesis projects, to your fainting episodes, to the stress from freelancing in film shoots while seeing your health deteriorate and to that awful day when your vet told me that we’d have to prepare for the worst – he was silent, patient, gentle and relentless in his love. I was going crazy and I lost my mind a couple of times. I was at the brink of just giving up but there he stood with loving eyes, he didn’t leave no matter how much I pushed. I wanted to be alone in my darkness, in my sorrow. I  didn’t want anyone to see the mess that I was. I was embarrassed. No matter how much I pushed, he stood there waiting. It was his gentleness. He didn’t force me to stop, he didn’t yell at me, he was just so patient and gentle. I always thought I needed a man to be stronger than I am – little did I know the kind of strength I had imagined in my head was not the strength I need. I didn’t need the roaring strength of a lion, I needed the gentle strength of a horse. He cried with me in my pain because he not only knew how much you meant to me, he built a relationship with you as well. Losing you was just as painful for him as it was for me. Knowing that you were nearing your last few days, he’d come over as much as he could so he could see you. If I were to be honest, I thought we wouldn’t make it this year because of the mess I was, but he was so relentless with his love.. he soothed my soul and managed to calm me down.

I thought 2015 was the suckiest year ever but when I look back, it wasn’t so bad after all. As much as it drove me mad when I lost you, I realised that God was also blessing me. It would be unfair to tell Him that none of this blessings did not matter if I could not have you because if I were to be honest, you lived past your time. He allowed you to fight to stay a little longer than expected so we could build more memories. He gave us both more time to prepare ourselves for that final goodbye. Your death was inevitable but we shared the best moments together – you and us (the family). I’m even thankful I didn’t get a full time job this year or go on my grad trip because it allowed me to spend so much more time with you. On top of it all, He allowed an old friend and I to reconnect, and found an abandoned dog a forever home. If I cannot see the blessing in these things, then I am truly blind. But I see it now, the beauty of it all.. and therefore, I call it a bittersweet year.

I am honestly scared of what 2016 might bring. I need to find myself a job and there’s the other thing – it’s our first whole year without you. But I’m going to take it a day at a time.

Suzie, this isn’t goodbye, but this is me telling you that I’m going to take a long while here on Earth before I get to see you again. My purpose in life is not done and you awoke the purpose in me. I intend to fulfill it. I miss you so much. It’s an ache I can never satisfy but it’s an ache I will live with. It will be like a trophy scar. Like the trophy scar on my left wrist which is a dog bite from another dog. You’re the trophy scar of my heart. Go have fun at the rainbow bridge k? Run around, play ball, make doggy friends, find Frisky and the other Suzie, find Lady and all the other dogs that were part of our lives. Be happy k? We miss you, you miss us, but we’ll see each other again.

In losing you, I have found parts of you in other people. You will always exist in my life. I guess this is the phase of grieving where the tides are tamer and the water is more still. You will always be loved.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

“I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

“In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

“Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

“Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

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Your face

Dear Suzie,

I miss your face. I keep looking at old photos of you and I miss seeing you in person. I miss kissing you by the side of your face, the spot you love. I miss being able to hug you – even if it’s on the floor.

I just miss you so much. Life has been different without you. I have a lot of anger I need to deal with. My emotions are too intense, I haven’t been able to keep them under control. I hate feeling this way but I have to protect my mind palace. I have to fortify its fortress. I have to keep fighting, keep moving and keep trying to find ways to pull myself from this dark place my mind’s been in. I didn’t think losing you would deal me a heavy blow. I close my eyes and I can only see your face. You sweet, loving face, telling me it’s gonna be alright. 

Dear Suzie,

Today, I give up on life. I feel so defeated and weighed down. All I want to do is just run away, to a new place. To start fresh. I miss you everyday and more so, on days like these. I’m tired.

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I see your face and it gives me strength. It fights my dark thoughts and lights the dark corners of my mind. It assures me that everything is gonna be okay and I that I can pull myself out of the darkness but sometimes, the dark thoughts are louder. Tonight is one of those days.

I wish to not feel right now. I’d give anything just to numb the emotions, and to stop the voices in my head from speaking. I want to keep seeing your face. It gives me hope.

It is almost done

My dearest Suzie,

This week has been busy for the whole family. We’ve been making the proper arrangements for your memorial tomorrow. It is going to be a simple one and we wanted to do it to honour your life. Last night, as we sat down writing down our favourite memories of you for the album, we couldn’t help getting emotional during the audio recording. Recalling these memories of you makes us laugh and smile, but the ache stays.

Chels said tomorrow is going to be weird because it’s like closing a chapter – and that chapter is you. It’s a chapter we never want to close. Right now, we’re still making all these arrangements – your album, your memorial, your final resting place and for me, your video. Once all these things are done, what next? Doing these things just means it’s not over yet but we know we cannot let it linger but at the same time, finishing them really means closing this chapter of our lives.

Like the quote said “some day when the pages of my life end, I know you’ll be one its most beautiful chapters”. And it’s true. You are. 

Daddy sent an email that gives me hope that the rainbow bridge really exists. It gave me some sort of peace to know we will be reunited again. Til then, wait for me k? I am going to do whatever I can in my life to keep honoring your memory. When my time is up, wait for me at the rainbow bridge and we’ll cross it together. You can introduce me to all your doggy friends then 🙂 I really miss you so much, Suzie.

Walking about in the house

Collage 007

Dear Suzie,

I’ve been saving all your photos from my Facebook to my desktop from when you were just a pup to your older self. While I was making a collage of your pictures arranged by theme, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and then the next thing I knew, I just began to sob. I miss you so much. I know the time of the month is a factor for how emotional I am right now, but deep down in my heart, it weighs heavy and all I want to do is just hug you. I get these urges to want to run to where you’d be in the house, to look for you and bend down to kiss you and hug you for a good few minutes. As I type this, I’m starting to tear again.

The above collage is the one got me all so emotional and weepy again. These pictures were taken from just outside and inside my room. I tried to capture how you’d walk into my room and I can vividly remember how. I almost expected you to walk in just about now – you’d walk in so casually like it’s your typical business day to do so. You wouldn’t even stop to look at me, sometimes you’d just walk straight to the windows and look out for a long while before you walk back to my side and just rest under my chair. I really miss you. Today, my heart just feels the weight of that ache a lot more.

*Deep breaths.

Suzie, I love you. I miss you every day. And every day since your passing just makes me love you more. It’s stupid and strange but the ache of missing you makes me love you more and more. It won’t stop growing. Your very presence follows me around everywhere like a phantom. I can still hear you, I can still smell you, I can almost feel your touch at times. I’m still trying to cope with your loss. Despite how emotional I have been these days, I’ve also been very angry inside. I imagine that on bad days like today, you’d be resting your head on my lap already because that’s your way of calming me down and making me feel better. You were the calm in my storm. I just miss you.

Dear Suzie,

I never thought talking about you again on the day you passed away, would make me cry again. I keep wanting to hold you. I miss you so terribly. The ache is immense. My natural instinct would be to run to you and hug you whenever I felt that way. I would hug you or lay near you until I felt better. You were a small dog but your company made me feel better than anyone else’s company. I’d choose you resting your head on my lap as I cry over any hug from people any day. 

I wish I could have that now. I am emotionally exhausted again from crying. I have the house to myself right now and I couldn’t help but to cry. I haven’t had time to myself to grieve and now I do. I honestly miss you so much. 

This year has been so hard. We went through so much together. Your health took a turn for the worse and that was the start of a trying period. School didn’t help. I don’t regret not going for my grad trip or not having a job immediately after graduation. These 5 months I’ve spent with you in the house were the best. It was necessary. I know some people will never understand what it feels like to lose a pet, and worse, they don’t get how we can cry for an animal. But you weren’t just an animal, you were a part of this family and my bestest friend and the truest love. 

I have lost a bit of my mind, I admit. But I’m gonna fight it and pick myself up again. Please guide me, Suz. Give me a sign that you’re okay and happy in heaven. I need you to help me through this. I have much I need to do and want to do in memory of you – guide me. Don’t leave my side. Give me a sign that you’re still near spiritually. I love you.

Dear Suzie, 

Life has been, well, frustrating. I feel like crap and sometimes I contemplate the idea of taking my own life. I don’t think I’m suicidal, I think I’ve just lost hope. I am losing my mental strength to fight through this shithole. I can no longer keep my emotions in check, it’s becoming like the last time. I’m angry with so many things and so many people. Then I get frustrated that I feel that way. But I feel that no matter what I do, I’m stuck. What hope is there left? 

I don’t know what to say. I need someone to offer me their strength. I am already losing my mind. Been so fiesty and angry. Been wanting to scream and punch things because I’m mad. Help me, Suzie. Since we lost you, I lost my peace. You were that calm in the storm for me. I miss you. I miss you so much.