Pet Euthanasia – Cherishing the Moments of Joy

It was a decision that had me soaking through reams of tissue paper. One so hard to make, it drained the life of me. I knew this day is inevitable, but acceptance didn’t make letting go any less suffocating.

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Thank you for being a great Joy in our lives for the past 18 years. A part of my heart is in the shape of you.

From the beginning of this year, her old age began making its presence felt. Cataract had blinded both her eyes by then but Joy had always been feisty. Despite losing her sight, she still roamed around the house as usual, constantly walking into walls and things. Like a pinball, she bumped from one obstacle to another until she reached her destination, which was usually the kitchen to have her meals and do her toileting. Even though she couldn’t see, she never misses going to the designated spot to pee and poop. After that, she would wipe her paws on a rug we placed at the kitchen’s entrance. She was that kind of dog. Clean, smart, persistent, obedient.

Then sometime in May, her limbs grew feeble. She could no longer walk for very long during our weekly stroll along a park connector downstairs. A couple of months later, she could no longer stand up properly and her front legs would slide and spread until she laid helplessly on the floor. She could no longer make it to the kitchen and urinated and defecated where she was. Sometimes when she relieved herself in the middle of the night or when we weren’t looking, she would wrestle in her own filth till we cleaned her up. I knew she must be miserable lying in her own waste because she had always liked cleanliness. So we got diapers for her, the ones for pre-term babies, to keep her from soaking in her own urine.

Losing her ability to walk didn’t stop her from having the will to move around. She would still prop herself up like a sphinx whenever someone left the house or came home and swept with her skinny front legs frantically as if she still wanted to see us out or welcome us back like she used to do. My heart hurts every time I see her struggling to stand up.

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You are the Flo-Jo of dogs, fast, nimble and athletic. To see you like this puts daggers in my heart. Limb weakness is typical of miniature pinscher in old age. You could also no longer chew the hard pellets of the dry food and we had to soak them in hot water to soften before hand feeding you. It’s a lot of work taking care of you but don’t you worry, we won’t abandon you because we love you.

That’s when the reality that we are counting down to Joy’s final day hit me. The state she was in pained me but her appetite continued to be good, still eating two meals a day, and other than the infirmities of old age, she didn’t seem to be in physical pain. Palliative care takes a lot of effort, even for a small dog. But it is in these difficult times that love is tested.

It would’ve been easier to discard her somewhere instead of having to clean up after her constantly, hand feed her, massage her and all the works that go into caring for her. True love is like this, it is measured by willing sacrifice, a sticking with to the end and not abandoning the one you love, especially in their time of need. It is not easy, the pain and inconveniences are very real, but I guess the purpose of life is this… to be there for the people and other beings that helped us feel love, and loved.

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Like the hands of a clock ticking down to the final moment. Of our time together, I always felt I could’ve done better for you.

One day, after showering her, I would call it spa because she gets an all-over massage and I would sing to her, I realised how sunken she had become. All skin and bones with protruding rib cage even though we’d feed her the same amount of food. That’s in late August.

Her body continued to shrivel. As she laid curled up on her sleeping mat, brown as she is, she reminded me of a croissant, half moon with raised ridges on the side. It wasn’t a pretty sight. From then on, her deterioration was swift. On 6 October, I left for a short weekend trip to Johor Bahru and upon my return, the very next day, she stopped eating and drinking completely.

My mum told me that she had eaten and drank very little in the three days of my absence. Joy must have been just eating enough to stay alive and waited for me to come home before she was ready to go.

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You seem to have collapsed into yourself. I’m broken into pieces seeing you like this. Oh the anguish of helplessly watching you fade away and there’s nothing I can do!

My family agreed that when Joy stops eating and drinking totally, that’s her signal. Her breathing had also become laborious, every breath looked strenuous. Is she in pain? She had a very low threshold for pain and would yelp and whine at the littlest tap on her buttocks in the very rare occasion when we disciplined her or cutting her nails. But for months now, she had not made a sound. Even when I grabbed on one of her front paws which would usually turn her into a siren. Now, there was only silence.

I can’t adequately describe the kind of pain my heart was in. Uncontrollable tears were my way to express how heartbroken I was as I went about making the decision to euthanise her and arrangements for her transition.

This blog post is a digital memorial of Joy as a remembrance for this treasured member of my family lest my own old age robs me of this exquisite memory, and also in the hope that it could help someone cope by knowing that you are not alone in having to make the excruciating decision when it is time to let go. Let tears be the healing. I recommend getting the 3-ply tissues, very strong and absorbent.

The First Times…

After booking a 7pm appointment with the vet, it was the last afternoon I had with Joy. Memories of the day I brought her home from the pet shop in Geylang were still so fresh in my mind.

I was looking for a chihuahua but the kennel didn’t have any. I was about to walk away but the owner led me to a play pen and showed me this lively ball of brown fur amongst a litter of puppies. She was the only miniature pinscher there. As I reached down, the brown dog came towards me and wanted to be carried. So I lifted her into my arms and I could tell she’s one to hardly stay still as she fidgeted here and there in my embrace. So full of life.

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First time I brought you to the beach at Sentosa. That’s when I realised that although you can swim, you don’t like water. I remember that I was in the lagoon and you were on the beach. You wanted to get to me. So you crossed the water between us and swam to me.

“No,” I thought. “I want a chihuahua. I don’t think this dog is right for me.” Mom and I left the shop. But there’s something about that brown dog that tugged at me. I broke out in itchy hives after that brief encounter. I didn’t know I was allergic to dog fur as I’ve had other dogs before but never kept them till their end. So before reaching the car, for reasons unknown, I decided to turn back and take a second look at the female puppy. Other than not being the breed I wanted, it also wasn’t the right gender as I had wanted a male dog. My perception back then was that a male dog would be able to rough it out with me.

The return to the kennel sealed our fate. S$700 later, the red-coated minature pinscher was on my lap, in the car, on our way home. I wondered why mom decided to get me a dog out of no reason. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas and she didn’t even dare to touch this brown dog at all in the first place.

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In the early days before “wefie” was a thing and my chin was still not indistinguishable from my neck, do you remember, you had your first menses and stained my bedsheets and I wanted to document your coming age? Hence this photo?

We contemplated for a name for her but her name sort of found me. Seeing that she’s such a perky, zesty and active dog with a radiant coat of red fur, an exuberance of positive life force, such a joy to have around; so I named her Joy. She was what happiness would look like if it breathed and had a body.

Once home, Joy was initiated into our 3-room HDB flat unit at Kim Keat Avenue. Space was tight and I wanted to be close to her so I placed her cage in my room. She didn’t liked being enclosed as she whined throughout the night. I learnt my lesson quickly and two nights later, she shared my bed. It was nice watching her sleep. Which meant I couldn’t get much sleep with this new occupier of my small, single bed. I was afraid I would crush her. I was cautious not to disturb or wake her as she slumbered.

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Your bed is your bed. My bed is your bed too… Never mind, as long as I can provide,

Ten days on, she was vomiting and having constant diahorrea. A visit to the vet confirmed that she contracted Parvo Virus, possibly at the pet shop. Parvo virus is a canine infection with an incubation period of up to 14 days and can be life threatening. I could still remember that I was in the office when mom called to tell me the diagnosis. “Joy may not survive the infection and she could die. She is not fated to be with us,” my mom wailed over the phone. For someone who didn’t want to touch Joy at all, I was surprised that she was so devastated by the news.

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Family photo during CNY of 2015, Year of the Goat. Your constant kaypohness of things around you is so evident in this photo. I wish I’ve taken more photos of you, of our adventures together.

I didn’t do any better. As soon as I put down the phone, tears streamed a river on my face. I was the only guy in the marketing department of Nu Skin Singapore and I had every intention to be the man by not “throwing face” in front of the ladies.

I broke down in the office as quietly as possible. No one needs to see my raw emotions. So quiet was I that my colleague sitting at the next table knew my newly added family member could be dying. I was very discreet about my crying. So discreet that only my department learnt of what happened less than five minutes after I got off the phone.

Thankfully, Joy survived and made a full recovery. She was fated to be with us after all. For the next 18 years.

The Last Times…

Time really has wings. No, not wings, but turbo engines. You feel it but you don’t know where it has gone. Everything felt like yesterday, then we are facing today, and thinking how to make it through tomorrow.

These are my last four hours with Joy after making all the final preparations. We went for a final walk along the park connector, a last spa, a desperate attempt to feed, hoping that if she still ate, we could call of the euthanasia, and a last embrace. Except that she no longer fidgeted in my arms.

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One last slow walk around the neighbourhood like we used to. Except that in the past, you were the one who pulled me along on the leash. Now you can no longer stand up on your own or walk. The smell of the grass seemed to trigger the functions of your bladder as you let go a big yellow torrent of pee all over me. It used to be that I dread cleaning after you. But now, I’m glad to be made into a mess by you. Perhaps this is a last “souvenir” from you.

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Can you see me through the cataract? I pray you can. This is the last time you ever looked me in the eyes before the moment yours closed forever. My baby, my Joy, I don’t think I have the strength to say goodbye after sharing my life with you all these years. But I know I cannot be selfish and let you suffer any longer. I LOVE YOU so much. I hope you know that.

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It’s shower time after our walk. Like we used to. One last time. You always go maniac whenever I say “walk walk”. And in the shower afterwards, you never stood still. But now, you could only lie there. So still. But no worries my love. I will spa you one last time and I won’t use the plastic scrubber. It will be my hands and an all-over massage like you always liked at the end of every scrubbing session. And I’ll sing to you, which seems to soothe you during spa time. You must be tone deaf to tolerate my off-key crooning. I will sing an uplifting song this time… about stars and blessings. Because you have been both to me and whenever I think of you, it will be a Joy.

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A last blow dry after that spa session which mom observed took much longer than usual. It’s the last time I touched every inch of your body. Of course I wanted to take my time to relish and cherish. You used to go crazy as the hairdryer hummed and raced around my bed. Not now. You’ve grown so frail, no matter how much we fed you. This is your last time on my bed. Do you remember the small cosy single bed we used to share before I changed to this queen sized one? As I watched you breathe, I realised how difficult and uncomfortable your breathing had become. Every breath felt like a struggle for you. With each inhalation and exhale, an unknown force tightened its grip around my throat.

The Final Journey…

Can time please stop?

Of course it wouldn’t. And it would take more than just my dog.

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If I could turn back time, I wish I never would’ve met you. Because you made saying goodbye so heart-wrenching. The universe must’ve felt our unwillingness to let go because it made getting a Grab driver who would transport dogs rather difficult.

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We finally got a Grab car but the driver was cold as a cadaver and rude as hell. Perhaps his lack of humanity was preparation for the rough emotional ride of watching you leave. This is it. We are here. At the gate of your final departure.

After some research, I decided on Mount Pleasant (Whitley) Animal Medical Centre for Joy’s euthanasia as we’ve brought her here for treatments previously and it is one of the more affordable ones. Our final expenses for Joy came up to S$380. The centre takes care of both the euthanasia and cremation.

There are 3 cremation options available:

  1. Communal – where the deceased pet is cremated together with other pets and their ashes scattered around a garden at Mandai Crematorium
  2. Partitioned – where the pet is cremated separately although it shares a cremation chamber with other pets and the ashes are not mixed and the ashes returned to you
  3. Private – where the pet is placed in the cremation chamber alone and the ashes returned to you

The cremation options range in price from S$180 to S$500. Euthanasia fee is separate from the cremation cost. Depending on the size of the dog, prices can vary. We opted for communal cremation for Joy as we wanted her to “run free” in a garden with other pets. Even when the time come for ourselves, my family prefers to go without holding anyone to the responsibility of ritual remembrance.

We want our ashes scattered to the sea to free the earth of resources to house our remains and relatives / friends from needing to do anything special to remember us. If we have made such a big impact or contribution in their lives, their positive change and good works in this world as a result of our influence are tributes enough.

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A last family portrait. Rainbow seems to sense something is wrong as she started to twist and looked at you.

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As I laid you on the table, you were calm at first but as I arranged the white chrysenthemums around you, you started to kick. I can feel that you are panicking. I leaned over your ear and started talking to you and you immediately calmed down. I couldn’t believe it, but you calmed down. Which confirmed that our connection was never broken despite the state you are in. So if you are sending your pet on its last journey, be around and talk to your pet the whole time. Don’t leave them dying in a strange room alone.

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Rainbow was unusually still and looked like tears came out of her eyes. I think she had a sense of what’s coming. Mum was brawling. To think that she didn’t even want to touch Joy when we first got her to this point where she couldn’t let go. Mom’s fondest memory was Joy placing her chin on her lap as she watched TV on the sofa nightly. The comfort of having a warm body who just wants to be with you.

Her send-off came rather suddenly as her deterioration was overnight. We needed to end her suffering and not prolong it further. Although we wished she could stay with us longer. I was at a loss about what to do. After some Googling, I emailed Mobile Pet Cremation to ask for advice. I received a reply but it wasn’t in time as Joy was suffering.  I appreciate that Jinn from Mobile Pet Cremation took the time to reply and console me every though I didn’t use their services. I have another furkid, Rainbow. Perhaps I will engage their services when it is her turn to be returned.

Having to fight tears while making the final arrangements was one of the toughest things I had to do. It wasn’t much, but careful thoughts have been given to every item.

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The light blue towel is my wish of freedom and peace for you as you return to heaven. Because you are an angel. The 3 candles symbolised that you have lit up the lives of my parents and me. The white chrysenthemum represent the purity of love, while the multi-coloured gerberas are the colours you’ve helped blossom in our hearts. Because flowers are like the enlightenment of a plant, you have enlightened our hearts about love. They are our simple gifts to accompany you in your crossover.

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A last family photo together. The five of us.

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We were so caught up with saying our goodbyes and touching you, I forget to stop and think if you felt comfortable. If you needed a moment of silence to process and be at peace with what is going to happen.

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One of my pet peeves were to hold your tiny paw in my hand and stroke it. You would always shrink your paw away in the past. But today, you were too weak to withdraw. And I was too weak to let go.

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My Joy, my baby, thank you for loving this family and brightening our lives with your intelligence, loyalty and royalty. Let’s admit it, you’ve always been something of a prissy princess. But that’s alright, because you are the queen of my heart. I pray that the absolute best is waiting for you on the other side.

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Be brave my love, have no fear. I can not go where you are going, but you know that my heart is with you. You are not alone. I am so blessed and privileged to have loved you. I will cherish the memory of you.

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Goodbye my furry angel. Rest in eternal peace. You are loved.

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你被爱了吗?

Orange-Rose

橙色玫瑰代表了友情与爱情之间的桥梁。

经一事,长一智。所有发生的事,必定有它的理由。所谓塞翁失马,焉知非福,重要的是对待每一件事情的看法和态度。以正面的思想去面对,遗憾的事也就化成良好的教训。

关于爱情,要遇上一个能够让自己朝思暮想,能够感觉安稳,可靠,放心的人并不容易。遇上了真的要懂得珍惜。手指有长短,人也有好坏,绝无十全十美。看人,不要只看短处,要懂得欣赏对方的才华,能量,性格,心的宽度,及思维的深度。要整体的看,而不是只注重于他人的缺点,忽视优点。一直找不能在一起的理由就难免盲目与可行之方。

找爱人,样貌身材虽然重要,但花无百日红。爱情似马拉松,要走的长远,伴侣的内涵很重要。一个处处为你着想,以你的快乐作为起发点,不惜一切的情人很可贵。能够是一位良师好友,看到你的短处而不批评,不畏惧,愿意帮你解围,让你成为最好的自己的那个更是难得的宝;找到了就要争取与他制造幸福的机会。

爱,无形,无影。它的衡量在于牺牲,通过付出显示它的存在。世上的艳花丽草数不尽,栽不完。能够放弃与野花散种,不受诱惑,是一种为爱的牺牲。现代,似乎越来越少人能做得到。

有时候,真的觉得很累。也不知自己的问题出在哪。一番好意总被误解。对他人好,并不一定掏得欢心。品德与持续的付出比不上他人渴望的短暂性欢快感。

我已尽力挚爱与关怀,是时候死心了。虽然很痛,但要再度疗伤,有朝一日再战情感马拉松。就让这部落格里的流言成为对自己的忠告。要找到诚实、踏实的爱人。

快乐不在于拥有的多,而是计较的少。有缘相聚乃难得之事。可能是我上辈子欠的,今世得还债。来的好,散的也好。但愿拿走我一块心的人自重,遇人要小心,前程无量,身体安康,家和圆满,寻得理想中的人生与幸福。

被爱是幸福。能有机会懂得去爱,更幸福。

请停

Dragonfly-KL

Something fleeting against something enduring… An Orthemis dragonfly parked in front of Kuala Lumpur’s magnificent Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

蜻蜓,请停,好让我慢慢的习赏。

缘份,请留,允许时间细细喜尝。

Dragonfly, please stay, the appreciation of you takes practice and time.

Love, don’t go, the joyful flavours of fate is made up of both bitter and sweet moments.

And So We Are

Pig-Tiger

Do we mind what is different, or focus on pursuing what is common?

You know that I am weird

And so are you

But there’s nothing to be feared.

You know I am not perfect

And so are you

But that doesn’t mean there’s a defect.

You know I’ve given my all

But would you?

And so we head for the fall.

Let Romance Pop-Up with a Handmade Card

It was my first time making a birthday card, a pop-up one. I wanted to make it really special because love has the power to make you do things like that. And when the relationship is over, it’s the crazy things you have done or done together that will become a warm memory of this person you were once in love with.

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The recipient of the card has an artistic streak and has created several pieces of abstract and sometimes profound digital artworks. Since it is for a birthday, I picked this piece that was inspired by the recipient’s trip to Sydney and was enthralled by the fireworks at Darling Harbour, resembling angels of light bringing something good with them.

I spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about how to make the birthday special and a few more getting excited about the idea of making a pop-up card, but more on thinking about how to do it. Thankfully, there are Youtube tutorials around.

So after an online crash course and picking the image, I set about conceptualising a pop-up card using elements in the image to form the layered effect and it’s off to Bras Basah to buy materials. Although it is a simple card, quite a bit of brain cells died to anticipate the number of cards and the combination of different types needed to provide a nice finish.

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I settled on 2 pieces of black construction paper, one to for the pop-up structure to hold the pieces of graphics, and another to form a backing so that when you look through the holes cut out from the top piece, you don’t see through them. I also got a thicker gold card to form the outer skin of the card.

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Side view of the pop-up card with 2 layers of black construction paper. The first layer if for cutting folded strips to hold the graphics and the back layer is complete the illusion of a night sky for the fireworks, else you will see through the cut strips.

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I’ve thought through and done the measurements but unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that the full height of the centre graphic is taller than the height of the card when folded close, resulting in it jutting out of the card. *Panic!* To rectify the problem, I went back to the stationery shop to buy a bigger piece of gold outer skin as the first one I got was the same size as the black construction papers and extended the size of the card to fit everything in.

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Ta-da! The completed card. Not something exceptionally beautiful but it came from the heart. The envelope says “Celebrate”, the front of the card states the recipient’s name, and inside says “Happy Birthday” so they form sort of a 3-part greeting before the message. I know, the message I wrote is lame. LOL.

So that’s my little adventure into arts and crafts. I think there’s nothing more romantic than a handmade something because it says that that person is thinking about you through the conceptualisation, planning, and execution stages. It’s time consuming and a lot of work.

But when you see the person’s eyes really light up, it’s all worth it.

Sun Prove Your Love

The other day, I was having breakfast at a hawker centre near my home. I was seated next to an old couple. As the morning sun peeped through, it shined into the wife’s face. Her husband immediately got up and asked his wife to switch seats with him.

The wife said, “But you will be in the sun.”

Husband replied, “I am sun-proof.”

If the wife’s heart hasn’t melted, mine had. Felt so wonderful to witness this little act of love.

So I finished my hot bowl of noodles at double speed to let them move to my table which doesn’t require sun-proofing. I hope I’ll find that someone who I will gladly sun-proof for one day :o)

But the wife snuffed out any flicker of romance. Instead of thanking her husband for the selfless act with adoring words, she asked the following…

“Sun-proof like you put on sunscreen with very high SPF?”

I was mortified.

Unable to control myself after hearing such an eloquent articulation of affection, I stole a glance over my left shoulder to make sure the woman wasn’t a robot. I regretted the curiousity of my eyes. The woman was playing Candy Crush on her mobile phone the whole time she was talking to her husband!

Noodles almost splattered out of my nostrils.

I felt such a sense of injustice for the husband but he simply replied, “No SPF, just sun-proof.” He smiled even though his wife wasn’t looking at him.

Love, it’s the best all-weather protection.

 

Appreciation is Healing

There’s nothing that heals a broken spirit better than a session of praise and worship. It is the aspirin, the morphine, the weed that brings on a high without rotting the body or brain.

I stumbled upon the full length Christian concert of Michael W. Smith featuring Hillsong with Darlene Zschech on Youtube and enjoyed a wonderful praise and worship session right in my room. Thank God for Youtube and full length videos!

Even though I haven’t been to the church for an EXTREMELY long time, I’m actually a very spiritual person. Not believing is a form of spirituality. I spent much time disproving and seeking evidence for the non-existence of God so that I don’t feel like I’m weak, that I need some higher power to dictate and take charge of my life. I’m not even an atheist who believes there’s no God. Being un-Christian was my religion.

But the more I fight it, the more I find that it is easier to believe. Whether or not He’s real, I’m still struggling with my faith, there’s no denying the change He has caused in my mum and stepdad. Perhaps their change has to do with age, but we can change in so many ways as we grow older. We can become bitter, joyless and suspicious, but I think God has showed them the better through His Word… to have a purpose and be constantly aware and grateful of the blessings they live in. Life is not perfect, but through the grace and promise of faith, life is beautiful. And death no longer fearful.

There is a thirst, a deep, innate hunger that only God can fill. Whether it is that crushing weight of loneliness, the painful embrace with low self-esteem, and/or that irreversible decline due to ageing, God lifts and provides the strength to rise above them all. I came to this conclusion because in the rare occasions that I listen in to Christian songs and feel an unfathomable degree of gratitude, I always feel such a surge of empowerment above the human condition.

It’s a very strange feeling. I cannot rationalise it. But something inside me actually felt good and experienced release from physiological, physical and circumstantial bondage. It is not a bodily escapade through alcohol/drug dependency, or sexual gratification, but a deep-seated contentment and spiritual liberation.

I don’t think it’s the Christian songs or sermons I listened to that brought on the rise above life. It has to do with the ability to appreciate, to allow oneself to be contented. And this ability to appreciate is inspired by Christ’s humility. He is the Son of God but He came down to die so that we may have eternal life.

Maybe the Bible or the collections of the world’s religions are mere fables but there’s no escaping that intrinsic hole that yearns for an explanation of our existence and purpose; a hole that finds its answers in giving thanks and showing appreciation to the Most High.

Believing is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of having been touched. The mind may not comprehend, but the soul knows very well.

Day 359 : Christmas Eve

This Christmas was about to become another non-event if not for a friend’s house party to celebrate the yuletide and heading down to my friends’ pub to get infected with the season’s cheer. I was prepared for a silent night, and much prefer it nowadays actually, just staying home and chilling with a movie or a good read over wine, but decided to stop being conquered by melancholy and pushed myself out of the house. My current battle with a bad neck notwithstanding.

So in the company of new friends made and old friends’ gaiety, this Christmas eve had spice although I was too drunk to remember much the next day. This photo is of friends who I’ve known for a long time (except the guy next to me at the back who’s someone’s friend and joined in the shot), some for more than a decade. Not everyone in the group is in the photo, I wish they are, but we’ve all been through some pretty wild times and really tough times… abuses, incarcerations, illnesses, fights, financial woes, death of love ones, etc. They are people I feel comfortable with anytime instantly without trying.

So when Cecilia called out for a photo to be taken of old friends, I felt the touch of Christmas. I may not see them as much, we may not have gatherings and outings like we used to years ago, but the joy and comfort of seeing them struck a chord of kinship that made getting older worth the while.

Enduring friendship is the great gift of many, many Christmas!

Day 335 : A Toast to Friendship

I haven’t caught up with Siow Har in a long time. We met during a basic digital photography course at SAFRA Photographic Club in late 2009 and really hit if off as pretty close friends who communicated frequently, went on numerous photo outings and overseas trips. We usually have so much fun because her unassuming and gungho personality unlocks all limits to what we can explore and do.

Because of her small frame, I used to associate her with being frail but she’s more garang than a lot of people I know. Sometimes her headstrongness can be at her own demise and draw the ire of others, but there’s no denying that her feist and zest for life are what caused many spectacular things to happen. I consider myself blessed by her friendship and the many who have been very generous in sharing their lives with me.

Then about a year ago, after the ScreenSingapore event, things took a turn and we drifted apart. Though we contacted each other much less, somehow that good friend feeling remained alive. So despite not catching for months, it didn’t feel like there was any rift when we met tonight to celebrate her upcoming birthday with a simple dinner and drinks.

I think good friends are like this… they are not jealous or possessive and they free you to make other good friends and even if you meet up for the first time after a long while, that familarity is rekindled in a heartbeat.

Happy birthday my dear friend and thanks for awakening the explorer in me with your lone trip to the ‘wilderness’ of Bangkok! 🙂

Day 328 : Love Lettuce to Mum

Recently, Singapore Post celebrated World Post Day (9 Oct) with a very meaningful photo contest on its Facebook page called Posting Moments. The contest encouraged Singaporeans to submit photos relating to moments where they would send and/or receive a post. It could be a letter, a present, or online retail therapy materialised. Submissions must be accompanied by a title and short caption to explain why that post meant something to them. The first prize is an iPhone 5… a very attractive reason for the contest to become the Apple of my eye.

So I obsessed about it day and night, thinking about what photo to submit. The natural thing to do would be to scour for meaningful letters, take a snapshot and upload. Problem is, contents in those letters are for my eyes only. Heh heh. And I don’t have a stamp collection to brag about although I used to dabble in philatelic pastimes for a while in my early teens. I wonder where did my stamp album, once so treasured, had disappeared to.

With no ready material, my enthusiasm faded. I had an idea that sort of examines the relationship between traditional post and the advent of SMS, email, Watsapp, Facebook, and what not, but to execute that photo needed help from friends and good weather. I’m up to my neck with work and some overseas trips so time wasn’t with me. And the weather has been sulky lately. Plus, the more I thought about the idea, the more lame and ludicrous it seemed.

Then today, I woke up with this other lame idea which is easier to execute in a photo, and meant a lot more to me. When I was studying in Melbourne in 2000 and during a period where I could only write letters to my mum because she’s totally un-techie, I always asked about her health and “Stay Healthy” is something I usually sign off with before “God Bless”.

Now that we are living together, I show my concern for her health by making salads for her dinner when I get the time. “Lettuce” and “Letters”, being phonetically similar, got fused in my brain this morning and this photo was born from the womb of wordplay.

My mum and I regularly send SMSes to express our love and care for each other but those are just words. They are heartwarming thoughts, but what if there’s something physical that come with the words. Instead of just saying “Stay Healthy”, wouldn’t it be great if I can send a vitamin pill or a piece of fruit, not virtual ones, that could make a physiological difference?

A SMS, Watsapp or email cannot do that. But with a traditional post, I can send health. Have your letter and eat it too. And that’s what this photo is about and my Posting Moments.

Too bad the brain wave came too late. Today is the last day for photo submission as well as the last day for voting. But well, since I’ve been mulling over the contest for so long, even if it means I don’t stand a chance in the contest, I would still like to have this post, a blog post, to tell mum I love her and please STAY HEALTHY! More letters lettuce will be coming your way! 🙂

Day 319 : 湿忆症

有些人在心里面逗留得不是很久,但牵挂却很长。想要对那些人失忆,反而更了解情意未干;越不去承认挂念此人,记忆却越潮湿。想失忆,反而湿忆。

在拍着张照片时,我想起了记忆就像雨后的积水。本来无色的一片石灰步道,转眼间浮现了周围的物与色,倒影了环境的记忆。但是它不永久。太阳出来了,地面的这一幕也就蒸发掉。

因深情而收藏的记忆也是如此。平时淡淡无奇,但经风雨时就会成湿忆,钩起那一段有人握住自己的手,话不用说,但心里已得到万分安慰的感觉。这种渴望在分手后则成为了痛苦。

不过痛也是短暂的。等到晴天霹雳,湿处就会干。

但天又下起雨的时候,心中的渴,又再度难受了。

Day 275 : 触境伤情

Albert Court Village Hotel

今天走路时有一点不小心,走到了 Albert Court Village Hotel (雅柏酒店),勾起了一股浪漫的心酸。三年前,我曾与一位本以为可以长相厮守的人住过此酒店,度过了一个浪漫的周末。但这份感情很快就夭折,十个月后便完蛋,被对方以 SMS 的方式摔了。

我觉得放弃那段感情有点可惜,但我不想强人所难。这几年来每逢过大节或生日,我都会寄个简讯献上祝福,可我从来没收到过回应。对我来说,不能做情人也可当朋友吧。毕竟我们曾经那么密切,那么疼爱对方。

因为午饭时间到 Sim Lim Square 买 hard disk,在回公司的途中不自觉的走过这里,时间也突然回到当时入住的快乐心情和情况。我被那突来的感触愣住了脚步,想起了那个人,不知道那个瓜至今别来无恙吗?

今年手机在吉隆坡被抢,丢失了所有的联络号码。因为没有 back-up 联络档案,今年就没办法再寄问候了,也可能从此与这个人永远失去联络。

Day 262 : Good n Evil

I’m an angel, I’m the devil.

I can be saintly good, and also hellish evil.

I bring comfort with my actions, I too destroy with my words.

It is flesh red, it is black withered.

It beats with certainty, it murmurs with conflicts.

It has the voice of truth, echoing through a deep tunnel of deceit.

Day 245 : Pets to the Vet

Perhaps it’s the haze, Rainbow’s left eye turned red and sore. That poor dear can’t even open it when she tilts her snout up to look at me. She seems to be developing cataract in that eye too while her right one showed signs of cherrying up. God, why? First it was Joy, now Rainbow… why do You delight in giving me gifts with quick expiry dates?

Since I took Rainbow to the vet, I brought Joy along to have her chronic skin condition looked at as well as her toxic breath. We’d seek treatments previously but their effects were short-lived and after a while, we grew complacent.

But as we went to a new vet, Animal Recovery Veterinary Centre, I thought I’d seek a different advice and see if Joy can get better. The total bill came up to S$318. My eyes almost dropped out of their sockets. Now I need a doctor for my wallet.

Day 225 : The Colours of Love

I own a white Jack Russell named Rainbow and a brown Miniature Pinscher christened Joy. Their personalities are as different as their coat colours. Rainbow is the equivalent of a canine dolphin who gets along with anybody and is fiercely loyal. On the other hand, Joy is more of a sour puss who is fiercely loyal to being a bitch.

But I love them both just the same because under Rainbow’s friendliness beguiles a disboedient streak while Joy’s aloofness is compensated by her tenderness, a side she rarely shows but when she does, she makes you feel like the most important person in the world.

Actually, I’ve learnt a lot about love from them. Through Joy, I’ve learnt to love imperfection. Other than her princessy ways, one of her eyes is cloudy from cataract, her breath stinks to hell no matter how much we brush her teeth, and she has a chronic skin condition that not only causes regular spotting on her body, but also made the vet very rich.

Her name is Joy to remind my family and I of the joy of God’s love and salvation.

Yet despite her unlovableness, every time she looks at me with her one good eye left, my heart melts and time stops. I cannot explain my affections for her. I guess that’s the power of love. It defies logic.

The other thing I learnt about love, I realised it through Rainbow. And that is that love is conditional. Herein lies an irony. Didn’t I just learn unconditional love with Joy? How then is it that love now comes with the caveat of “terms and conditions apply”?

Her name is Rainbow because all seven colours of the rainbow combine to give white light; and the rainbow is a symbol of God’s convenant of grace with Man.

Rainbow has what I would call the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. When at home, she is like a magnet that sticks to me all the time and always begging to be touched and caressed. But when I take her for walks, the docile angel turns into a winged devil who neither walked close nor heeded my calls to come to me. I can call after her till I’m Rod Stewart but that furball will just buak bodoh. She also constantly pick fights with other dogs.

Because Joy always “bullies” Rainbow at home, I sometimes call her a gangster. Little did I know, Rainbow is mafia.

It’s the reverse with Joy. She walks close and always respond to my call. It’s as if they switched souls, which led me to think that love is circumstantial. Bring a lover to a scary movie and that person will depend on you more; bring that person to an arena that is their element and you become a sideshow.

So how does the unconditional and circumstantial co-exist in the realm of love? In my reductionist view, unconditional comes when the person who loves us has limited or no choice and is acting out a repression in some way. And when a person has many choices and we are only one of them, his / her love would be circumstantial depending on who gets his /her attention at the moment and distraction is usually swift.

But the most important lesson I learnt from Joy and Rainbow is just let our true colours show, for the two dogs never mask their emotions and are always themselves, and hope that someone can love us for being white or brown, and all the shades in between!

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