Sunday, April 16, 2023

My Beloved Shiwa: I Look Forward to Seeing You On The Other Side

Shiwa, circa Jan 2020, waiting for food treats under the kitchen table
To say that the past half-a-year or so has been tumultuous for me is sort of an understatement. After rescuing my favorite stray kitten from parvo and a feline strain of coronavirus last August, I was hit by one strange event after another.  Redundancy from work. A 3-month bout with Long COVID that rendered the rest of what remained of the year a blur. Unemployment. Near-misses with employment prospects. A job scam. A scarring bout with shingles. Then a crypto scam. I had to stop my regular stray fostering and feeding as I am ill-equipped -- financially, emotionally, spiritually -- to continue.  I'll be honest and candid, part of me was glad I survived the bout with Long COVID.  But a bigger part of me wished I didn't.

In the midst of being entangled in a crypto scam only a month or so ago, I knew something was amiss but I didn't know what.  It's only days ago when I learned that one of my beloved canine friends in Maligcong has crossed the rainbow bridge.  Last time we were there, last September, I remember her always stealing a place on my bed and not wanting to give space to Maku and Tam-Tam. She's not even a foot tall and probably just 20 pounds or so but her personality was a lot bigger than her physical body.

I also remembered giving her a bath after I discovered she led a coterie of fleas to my backpack. She didn't want to take a bath but she didn't took offense for giving her one. Come the nighttime, she would again seek a warm place on my bed, with warm blankets to lie on.

It pains me to look back and recall these. But I take consolation in the fact that we had a bond. That I love her and clearly she loved me back. Sometimes, that's all we can do.  I also take solace in what NDE survivors relate in their stories, that when they crossed, their beloved pets were there to welcome them.  I just knew in my heart that these creatures have souls and that it was not an accident that we met in this lifetime.  I also know in my heart of hearts that we will meet again.

Bed warmer and furry friend on my bed, using my blanket
You'd think that after three years of fostering, rescuing, and feeding strays, I would have become enured to the passing and going of feline and canine friends. It's actually the reverse. I cannot not grieve for each and every one of them because they are all unique and special.  One of my YT favorite rescuers, Lee Asher of The Asher House, talks about the emotional toll of rescuing in this video.  I can relate even though I do not have a social media channel on my pet rescues/feeding/fostering. Some people have no idea how gut-wrenching this advocacy could be.  So why do I do it?  When a stray cat or dog keep following you, sometimes all the way home, you're left with two choices: ignore your calling, or acknowledge your connection, your vocation, and do something about it.

When I look at the gallery of my fosters, rescued strays, and bonded pets who have passed on, I cannot help but cry.  A friend, Gretch, one of my Insight Timer staff-mates and friends, asked me about whether we can recover after losing our beloved pets.  I told her I don't actually think we can.  Maybe, we just pretend to so life can go on as usual. In my case, each and every loss leaves a void in my heart.  But I'd do it again and again for their other brethren.  In Shiwa's case, I look forward to the day when I can see her again running up a hilly road, barking like a big dog, wagging her tail, grinning that silly grin, sniffing the cool mountain air, and calling to me to come home.


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