Sunday, October 23, 2011

On Loss

It took me a long time to decide where home was and what 'home' meant to me. The longer I've been away from 'home', the clearer the concept had become. However, in the last year, that concept has changed. When I pictured 'home', I saw my childhood house in South Africa. Last year my parents moved and so now I have a new visual for that. When I pictured 'home', I saw my parents and our dog, Bello. Three days ago Bello left that picture.

There is nothing that can prepare you for the loss of a loved one - furry or otherwise. I come from a small family and so our dogs (we've had 2) were always a strong part of our unit. As a 6 year old I wrote one of my first stories about my brother, Boomer. Boomer was a sheepdog who left us during my final year at school. We got Boomer when I started school and he passed away the year I finished - he traveled that road with me to the end. Bello joined us in 1999 from the SPCA, a sprightly, beautiful spaniel cross something with a mop of golden ginger fur and the playful, loving temperament to match. I left South Africa about 6 months later and Bello provided a much needed buffer for my parents - someone to adore unconditionally while I flew off to explore the world. After 12 years of exploring, i might have reached my destination...

So, now the picture looks like this: me in Sydney with my son and husband. My parents in their new house in South Africa... and it doesn't look right. I can think of it as a period of transition while the fractured pieces of that 'picture' rejoin in a new form. The person who boarded that plane in 1999 would think of it like that - optimistically. Right now it's blurry, distorted by tears and grief and a feeling of intense loss. I have a fierce urge to 'fix' it - to paste it all together again but I don't know where or how to start. I've never been very crafty. So, answers and solutions on a postcard please. Address it to me at my home. Wherever that is.