Dealing with Death…

The last weekend was very much-anticipated and the things one would probably think of doing on a 3-day weekend could include: Sleeping in, doing things slowly at one’s pace, chilling out at some café joint/pub… the list goes on.

That weekend turned out quite differently for me. While my Facebook timeline was updated with friends receiving their newborn, spending much-deserved time with their family, getting ready for a short getaway e.t.c, I received news of the first death: Poh’s grandma.

Poh’s grandma was hospitalised and we were intending to visit her after dinner on Thursday but before we reached, my father-in-law called. She had passed away, after my parents-in-law, uncles and aunts left.

By the time I knew Poh, she had lost her ability to speak. She does attempt to smile when we greet her and all the while, she was cared for by a maid. She was in constant pain as she had arthritis and it was so bad that she could not hold anything using her hands. She could not put her feet down too. Now, I hope she is relieved.

After finishing work on Friday, Poh and I made our way to the wake. The altar has been set up and his grandma’s body has been embalmed and laid in the coffin. We pay our respect with a single joss stick and bowed before her. Vegetarian dinner was served and we participated in a Buddhist ceremony that took place on all 3 days of the wake. A monk was invited to chant some designated Buddhist scriptures that were commonly used during funerals and we sat in front of the altar throughout the ceremony which ran into the evening. The ceremony each evening was pretty intense and I fell ill. My nose was extremely sensitive and reacted quite badly to the different incense burned during the processions.

Just as I intend to spend the rest of the day recovering from the running nose, I received news of the 2nd death. After my bath, my phone rang. I picked up, only to hear my mum sobbing on the other end. Our beloved dog has passed away.

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I rushed over in a cab, only to see my teary-eyed mum with Iko’s hardened body in her hands. Upon seeing the state Iko girl-girl is in, I, too, could not hold back my tears.

Mum had went with dad for a checkup at SGH and when she came home, Iko, as usual, appeared to be asleep. It was only when Mum went closer to pat her that she realised Iko’s body has hardened. Iko has left, quietly and peacefully.

This shot was taken some time back when she was asleep.
When she passed on, she was also in this position… 

When I arrived, Mum had already called Pet Cremation and someone was on his way to collect Iko’s body. While we wait, Mum held Iko’s body, wrapped in a towel,  close to her, like a baby. She is, after all, our baby. Besides being the one who gets away when Dad gives her yummy human food from the table, she is also the little naughty being who always gets away after pooing hastily on the floor and running away to hide for fear of being scolded and smacked on the bum. When the mess is cleaned up, she’ll be sashaying back into the kitchen for treats as though she hasn’t done anything wrong. She was also the little one that made Mum mad angry by peeing at discrete places she preferred instead of her regular spot. Those were surely hard to detect… I will definitely miss her growls and the moments she threatens to bite (occasionally she does snap!) whenever we disturbs her cheekily by pulling away her chewing toy or tapping her head/chest/ paws whenever she’s in my mum’s arms.

Iko with her toy…

One of her naughty acts: Tearing up the newspapers and having the I-did-not-do-it look…

Yep… She bites but I deserved it… Now this could be the only memory I have of the furry fellow…

She used to bounce around like a bunny across the void deck, chasing after my brother as he shuffles swiftly around so as to keep her, as well as us, entertained. She is never tired of the same old games we play with her like throwing her toy all around and she would gladly chase after them. We would also quietly walk behind her and sneaked behind the walls of the void deck so that she would start to panic at some point in time when she realise we weren’t behind her and start searching frantically. We would then shift our positions accordingly to how far or near her bells jingle and I would always remember how she rejoices when she finds someone… All these were just a fraction of the fond memories she has left us with. While these memories came flooding back, so did the tears. All I could do was to look on at how upset Mum was while she hugged Iko’s cold body, not being able to do anything.

Not long after, a voice jolted us from our grief.  Mr Patrick from Pet Cremation was standing at the door with a cage in his hand. I opened the door to let him in and he opened the cage, allowing Mum to lay Iko in it. Mum has helped Iko wear 2 of the shirts Iko own because it was raining when Mr Patrick came and Mum was afraid Iko would be cold when it is in the land of the angels. She also stuffed Iko’s toy, tidbits and dried food in the cage and expressed to Mr Patrick the need to burn these together so that Iko would not go hungry. Mr Patrick assured us that he would do as what we had instructed and consoled us. Apparently, Iko has lived a reasonably long life. At the age of 14, she has outlived the average age of a dog by 2 years. According to Mr Patrick, the vascular muscle of a dog could give way anytime after age 12. Iko was also fortunate to die a natural death. There was no complications which was a good thing because some families were put through more agony when they tried all they could to resuscitate their beloved canine but yet could not. Talking about this, Mum was further agitated at the thought of the horrible veterinarian she had brought Iko to the day before. He reassured Mum that Iko would not die, took 2 tubes of blood from Iko, despite her fragility, prescribed medications for Iko which she vomitted out and even told Mum to bring Iko back 10 days later for the results. Now, not only did Mum bear the costs and heartache of seeing poor Iko’s frail body get punctuated by all those needles, Iko did not live on. Mr Patrick tried his best to comfort us, though there was not much he could do. When asked about what we intend to do with Iko’s ashes, Mum instructed Mr Patrick to scatter Iko’s ashes into the sea. Mum was worried that he might just throw Iko’s body into the bin but he reassured us that he is a professional who has been in this business for over 2o years hence he would make sure Iko’s body is cremated properly and its ashes scattered as per our wishes. He also shared how some owners chose to place their dog’s ashes at a columbarium at Ubi instead but we decided it’s best for Iko to be able to roam freely instead of being cooped up at a single place.

He then took his leave, with Iko. When I left, Mum was rather calm but she was putting on a strong front. Dad called when I was on my way back, telling me to comfort Mum as she started crying again soon after I left. I would tear at the thought of Iko not being around anymore but Mum had it way harder. It is not easy facing the empty floor that used to have this little white dog sprawled at a corner. Neither would it be easy to stay in a quiet house that was once filled with faint sounds of bell jingles when the little dog prances around and barks when strangers or even neighbours passes by…

With 2 deaths in the family in just a short span of 5 days, I was simply overwhelmed. This episode not only highlighted how unpredictable life could be, it also re-emphasized how we should not take anything for granted and treasure all love ones… And as much as I wish I could rest and recover from all the grief and running nose, the world continues revolving and unfortunately, I would also have to pick myself up quickly and move on a.k.a get on with life and go to work. 😦

Here’s a short note for Ah Ma and Iko:

Dear Ah Ma,
I hope you are now in Ah Gong’s company and that you are free from the sufferings you have experienced.

Dear Iko,
You will always be our dearest baby and your place in our hearts will never be replaced. Please be happy wherever you are. Continue to bounce and leap with joy each time you play the games we used to play together with the angels.

 

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