I find it strangely surreal and ironic in a way - that just last night I dreamt about Gina, my lovely Pomeranian dog who passed away more than four years ago. I was gently awakened from the dream by my handphone ringing its alarm subtly. I woke up and groaning, turned over to pick up my phone and see what was this alert all about. It was horrifically uncanny that the flashing screen on my mobile read : Today 24th April - Gina's death anniversary.
At first I was a little sad, then I laid my head on my pillow and smiled. The dream had been sweet. It was as always - the way it's always been for years and years - me and my brother would come home from school in my dad's car, and we'd grab our bags and run to the front door, racing and yelling at the top of our voices. Our door was a perfectly white-grilled one, and Gina would always come running as fast as her little legs could take her, barking at the top of her voice. It wasn't a normal doggy bark either, she had a special sound just to welcome us home. It went something along the lines of "Aru--ruu--ruu!!!"
and me and my brother always laughed ourselves silly at her and imitated her affectionately, so Coming-Home-From-School time was always a loud occasion of resounding "Aru-ruu-ruu"'
s all around.
She would jump up and down in excitement, pawing the grill like nothing could possibly be better than having us home, and we'd kick off our shoes and open the door as fast as our little hands could turn the key, then she'd cannonball on us in turns. I would drop to my knees and allow her doggy little self to pounce and lick me all over as fast and noisily as possible, on occasion I would even let her pin me to the ground, laughing helplessly and breathlessly as she assaulted me in a flailing whirlwind of fur and whiskers.
We loved little Gina. When she was alive, she was easily the Mistress of the House. She wasn't as fluffy or well-groomed as your typical poofy Pomeranians due to a life-threathening operation she had underwent as a young teen, but there was still a dignified, ladylike air to her and she demanded respect and made sure she got it. She was the sole responsible one for disciplining my goofy Romario when he joined my doggy household, despite him being almost two feet larger then herself. She would growl ferociously and pull sharply on his whiskers everytime he acted much too silly, and it was always comical sight to see this large, dashing dog submit humbly to a tiny, fluffy queen.
She also had the privilege of living indoors, and due to her size was free to enter or exit the house as she wished. She had privilege to sleep on couches, and once she grew too old to jump, she demanded to be lifted in a most respectable manner onto the couches. Many a time has she fallen asleep on my lap, on the best pillow, whilst watching a movie. She also has full ownership of the front lawn, where she obnoxiously lies right in the middle of it to sunbathe, completely ignoring the needs of anyone who wants to park their car or water the plants. Unlike Romario who lived outside, she had her own little corner (but really, she owned the entire house pretty much)
with her own luxurious basket and blankets, and even claimed for herself an old Snoopy plush toy that used to belong to my aunt when she was a little girl.
We loved Gina, and we loved the way she would come running to us whenever we called, and the way she tried to hide in the most unscrupulous places when it was bath time and the way she always happily waited under the table to eat the awful greens that we didn't. We loved the way she kept us company at night during freak thunderstorms or electricity failures, and the way she proudly settled in one corner of the kitchen to keep Mom company during cooking, and the way she ran around our feet when we were excited. I used to lift her onto her hindlegs and dance madly around with her, even if it probably did hurt her, she never seemed to mind for my joy, and the way I would cradle her in my arms and twirl ourselves around like a helicopter and then put her down and we would both be wobbly and dizzy and struggle to find our balance.
We loved her, and our little hearts shattered the evening we came running home from school as usual, yelling "Aruu-ruu-ruu~!!
" at the top of our lungs, only to find - in a miserable cardboard box outside the perfectly white, grilled front door - her stiff, lifeless body, eyes still open and legs splayed out arkwardly in such an undignified manner completely unsuited for her royal self.
It was a still evening, with the perfect blue sky and summer clouds, and nothing else could be heard except the single, heart-breaking howl that escaped my brother's ragged throat, and the whines of Romario as he sniffed her body in puzzlement, wondering why she didn't reprimand him as usual. Me? My tears poured silently down my face, because no sound could escape my lips, not even a small "Aruu-ruu-ruu
." My brother went to get a spade and I was bid with the heart-breaking task of carrying her cold body all the way round the huge garden to the backyard, where we chose a perfect spot for her to sleep forever. My grandmother solemnly stood with us as my brother ferociously dug into the soil, his tears staining the dirt and mud with every hard strike. My father watched from afar, and I wonder how sad the scene must have looked to a grown-up, two small, 14 year old children valiantly digging a grave for their best friend - nay, family member - one a tough young lad, now with tears running down his hard cheekbones as he dug a grave, and one small, helpless girl, holding a much-loved bundle of fur in her arms as she weeped silently. And even though my father and grandmother said nothing, you could see the pain etched on their faces - wheter it was for our behalf or not, we know for a fact that it was pain - because they loved Gina too.
We lay her gently in the soft earth when it was deep enough, and tried to shut her eyes - but the body was too stiff, too cold. We had to cover her with her eyes still open, and this was the last straw. I threw my head into my arms and wailed and wailed, and my brother bit his lip and stubbornly kept shoving the earth back into place, but I could literally see his teardrops fall with a splatter onto the earth he was pushing.
It was a quiet evening, and it turned into a even quieter night, and I remember going into the kitchen as my Mom cooked, and she was standing silently over the wok, ferociously digging into a chicken dish with the stove on full-blast, but there were tears running down her face as she violently cooked - and we knew it was because this time there was no little dog settled proudly in one corner of the kitchen to keep her company.
Gina was very old when she died, and out vet was surprised at her age. She had passed the average lifespan of her breed, and he smiled and told us that she must have lived a good life, and must have loved and been loved more than her little doggy heart could ever hope for, and it was almost a miracle that she had lived for so long. "She must have had a lot to live for."
was what he said to us, and this time we didn't cry, we smiled.
I smiled this morning at my beeping alarm, and I still remember it as clearly as before and the grief will never really dissapear. Sure, 'it's just a dog'
, is what some people might say, but they never know that it's never really just a dog
. For all who have had the privilege to own or love a dog(s), and to be honoured by their love, you will understand how they leave a permanent mark on the soul, never gone, never forgotten, and how you will always remember and honour their companionship, their devotion, their unrivalled chivalry and the beauty in their soft eyes that holds the depth of the universe and all the love in the world.
I lost control and let myself cry again, today, even as I'm typing this, because you never really move on from burying your own family member, but I cry, and then I smile, because it's not really a death anniversary after all. It's a celebration of her life.
I visit her grave every day I'm back in Malaysia and the flowers where she lays bloom as beautifully as that perfect blue sky the evening she died, and for all we know, she's still alive and she still runs to greet us when we come home, yelping in her high-pitched, doggy little voice, "Aruu-ruu-ruu-ruu~!!!!"
Labels: dogs, gina, love, memories