“You haven’t blogged in a while. Don’t you want to write something?” So I opened a new document and stared at it. The only movement in the room was the blinking cursor. It’s been a while since I wrote anything. Not because I haven’t had ideas. But because nothing feels right. The first blog I write after April 16th had to be about her. It couldn’t be about anything else. But how do I write about her?
How do I put words to paper without crashing – body, mind, heart and soul? How do I ever communicate with words what it’s like to lose someone unexpectedly? To lose someone for the first time? To lose her?
Do you know how fragile our lives are? Her life was ten times worse. But nobody told me. I was so focused on him. “He’s older. He’s fat. He’s never been extremely healthy. I have to be prepared to lose him someday.” It made so much sense. She was younger. She was active. She had always been a lot healthier. How could I have known? How could I have been prepared? It was a skin infection. He’s had thousands of them. He’s been okay. She should as well, right? No one told me she wouldn’t be. Because that was just the beginning of one week of pain. Physically, for her. Emotionally, for me.
I still remember the 15th like it was yesterday. I went home from the vet but I just couldn’t stay away. How could I sit there and eat? And sleep? And watch TV when my little one was struggling to live? So I went back. I held her. I kissed her over and over again. I told her I understand she has to do what she has to do. But then the 16th morning happened.
I kept calling the vet, “Is she okay?” They responded that she’s sleeping. At about 10am, I felt this pang. I went crying to my Dad, “Let’s not put her to sleep. She’ll live. She’ll come back.” It was this rush of a feeling. I sobbed to my Mom, “She’s going to be back here. She’s ours. She can’t go away from us.” My mom tried to calm me down. She made me sit down. The phone rang. “Her temperature shot up. We tried. But she couldn’t make it.” I just went very silent. I told them in my calmest voice, “I’ll have Mom call you back in 5 minutes.” I put the phone down on the bed and screamed.
Have you ever lost someone? For the first time? That was my first time. And since the moment we knew that she probably wouldn’t make it, I knew I’d be the one to get that call. I knew it would be me who told my family. But I didn’t really tell them. I couldn’t. How could you say words that are synonymous with, “The girl we loved is now gone”?
We went and said our goodbyes. The vet clinic vibrated with my mother’s cries. When you live in a dysfunctional family where saying, “I love you,” is the most awkward thing they can imagine, a furry baby’s love means the world. That little girl was my mother’s world.
It’s taken me three months to acknowledge the fact that she’s gone. Three months to write this post without tearing my skin out because that would be less painful. But my heart is still broken. I wonder at times if she can still hear me. If she came still see me. If she knows that when I lie down at night, I wonder if she’s sleeping just like I’m about to. I wonder if I should go find her and check on her one last time. This world will never be the same. She came to us in a cardboard box, wrapped in old newspapers. I looked at her and said, “She’s a Mika. This is our Mika.” And that’s who she’ll always be. Our Mika.
I walked out of that clinic completely devastated. Never wanting to step back there again. I held my mother’s hand and told her, “She’ll give you a sign. She may be gone but she’ll always be around. You’ll know it when you feel it. I promise.” I had my doubts about that promise but I had hope and faith in her love for my mother. We went home and I headed out because there was a lot of difference between being home and knowing she’s at the vet compared to being home and knowing she’ll never walk back into that house again.
I struggled to sip tea and prepare for an interview for the job I now hold because all I really wanted to do was sob my heart out. My mom had gone to visit her friend. She called. I picked up with fear because I knew she was fragile. Her first words were, “Mika has come back!”
You could imagine my confusion for I held her breathless body four hours earlier. Mom was at her friend’s house, crying. A friend’s house that we’ve visited a million times since I was, maybe, 12 years old. I’m 25 now. You can imagine. We’ve always parked at the same place. She always comes to our car. We always sit in the car and talk. But of all days, on April 16th 2018, the day we lost our baby girl, a bunch of school boys ran up to my mother and handed her a rescued baby boy.
I’ll give you a little background. The doctors sat us down when Mika was sick and told us to never adopt pugs again. Because their many health complications are painful for the pet and the parent. Mika had Pug Encephalitis. A disease that mostly affects pugs under the age of 3 and is almost always fatal. We told him how we’d talked about it. How our third baby was going to be an Indian Mongrel. And this time, we’d get a boy. So we’d have two boys and a girl. The perfect family.
There, in mom’s hands, on the day we lost Mika, was an Indian mongrel furry boy. And what’s more astonishing? He jumped into her arms and nestled into her shoulders like Mika used to. It was a sign. It was meant to be. We named him Subramani, a.k.a., Subbu.
There have been a lot of difficulties in our process to keeping him. From a father who wasn’t ready for another furry member to the reality of adopting another pet with an existing 5-year-old boy who was extremely emotionally attached to Mika, we had the odds lined up against us. So we tried to give him up for adoption. But every time he went away, something brought him back to us. He is ours. It was meant to be.
He’s not Mika. They’re extremely similar. But he’s not her. She can’t be replaced. She was the sassiest dog I’ve ever known. She could be a real bitch sometimes, too. But she was who she was… Small body, loud personality and a giant heart. Our lives will go on. I’ll have more furry babies in my life. But I’ll never forget the tiny puppy that wouldn’t stop licking me for as long as I live. No-one can ever replace her. Nobody will ever be my Mika.