My Guiding Light

There’s a song on Spotify that I’ve listened to a few times; every time I listen to it, I think of Suzie. It’s called ‘Guiding Light’ by Foy Vance featuring Ed Sheeran; it goes like this –

These lines in particular –

Cause the Sun is low,
And I yet have still so far to go,
My lonely heart is beating so,
Tired of the wonder.

But there’s a sign ahead,
Though I think it’s the same one again,
And I’m thinking ’bout my only friend,
And so I find my way home.

When I need to get home
You’re my guiding light,
You’re my guiding light.

The first time I listened to it, I had to hold myself back from crying. I was on my way back home from work, crossing over to the North-South line from the Circle Line. There were crowds every where and I didn’t want to be noticed even though I knew every one was busy with doing their own thing. So I held it in and kept the music on replay.

In case you were wondering why I would do that – it was because it pleased my heart. It gave me hope to know that I would see her again at the end of my life. This would be the song I would think about in my dying days. I imagined how I’d be in heaven and that she’d come running over to me, wagging her tail excitedly. I imagined I would cry at the sight of my beloved companion, I would scoop her in my arms again and I’d kiss her and never let go. I don’t know what heaven is like, and I don’t know if we have emotions there or if we remember our identities or relationships on Earth, but I do know that it’s a beautiful thing to imagine so and that it gives me some hope that we only had to part ways temporarily and that our reunion would be permanent.

Today’s the 26th of November. It’s a year since Suzie’s passing.

I didn’t wake up wanting to cry. I didn’t get up remembering the horrible night or days before her death, nor did I want to. I didn’t wake up with that overwhelming ache and grief. I woke up with hope and joy.

Yes, the ache never leaves. It will always be there lurking around in the deep crevices and corners of my heart. I believe that there are several rooms in my heart that my loved ones occupy and that with each departure, the rooms become quiet. Sometimes we welcome new loved ones and they occupy those empty rooms and we start to feel the wholeness again; but each time you visit that room, you reminisce how the room used to be, how the furniture of the previous occupant were arranged. Same room, different orientation. It is that way with Suzie. Although her room is empty now, her spirit resides. Some days I walk past the room and I feel the silence but the day is busy and I don’t have the luxury of time to walk in to reminisce. Other days, I walk past the room and I stop by for a couple of minutes. And there are the rare days where I don’t even intend to go up there but I stumble across a familiar item elsewhere in the house and it brings me to a memory of her; the ache starts to intensify and the emptiness becomes greatly felt. It is those days the flood enters my house. In those moments, I look for something stable to grab until the flood subsides. I’ve learned that when you fight the flood, it just tires you out more.

I haven’t found a new occupant for Suzie’s room and I hope that one day, I would be able to; maybe even a few more occupants sharing that room.

Suzie may have departed this world but my love for her remains as strong, if not, stronger. It’s hard to forget my furry companion who looked at me with eyes full of love. She gave me a friendship like no other. She was both my daughter and my bestfriend. I protected her with my life, I saw her through her deteriorating health together with my family; we were with her every step of the way. My only hope is that we gave her everything a dog could ask for during their time on Earth. That she felt greatly loved and deeply cared for. That despite her being fussy, she had enjoyable meals. That she loved every minute of the wind in her face during car rides and running through the fields at Sembawang Park.

I remember her last car ride – we were on our way to Sembawang Park, her favourite. We wound down the window and Tita held her as she propped herself up to get the wind in her face. She was so silent unlike her energetic, youthful self. It almost felt like her thoughts were a recollection of her best days, her golden years. I captured the moment; a part of me knew we were reaching our final destination, metaphorically speaking. I guess I just didn’t want to forget that moment.

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31 October 2015 – Suzie enjoying the wind in her face on the way to Sembawang Park. Photographed by cristyamanda

All life ends eventually; death is inevitable. I knew what we were getting ourselves into when she came into our lives. I am thankful that I had her for 11 years and for her love and friendship. I know she no longer suffers and that she’s running free. As silly as it may sound, a part of me wishes I had one more day with her. I guess we’re always bargaining for more. I know her remaining time in this world was borrowed time and we were just fortunate to have had her for this long given her condition. To feel her near me again, to hear her paws rattling on the wooden tiles, to hear her flapping her ears or the gentle sound of her bell against her collar as she moved from one place to another, to have her poke her head through my room door when she wanted to get in – I wish that every day, but I know the danger of wishing for too much and being far away from what’s real.

I know that her death is as real as her life and that she’s no longer here with us physically. I know that I love her with all of my heart and that she knew I did. I know that she loved me back and maybe that is enough for me.

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Suzie’s first picture on the grass on 12 May 2012. Photographed by cristyamanda

To Suzie, gone but never forgotten. One day when I have kids and other dogs in my life, I will tell of your story and how much you mean to me. You are deeply loved and greatly missed and you’ll continue to live on in my memory. When the time comes for me to leave this world, and I am lying afraid in my deathbed; please be my guiding light to heaven. Until we meet again… I love you.

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