Loss

It’s been a year since I lost my mother and 4 since I lost my little furry buddy, Champers, and to be honest, the loss still weighs heavy upon me. Time, they say, heals all but heal is probably not the right word. I think it is more that one learns to deal with the loss. You suck it up and carry on because that is what life does, it continues. You get dragged along regardless. What is really bothering me at the moment is the suffering my mother endured, especially in the last years of her life. I am so sad for her. Those final months at her side, watching her die, really haunt me.

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Above: my mom (on far left) with her brother and his wife. 17, I think?

Now you should know that I am a firm believer in the idea that to live is to suffer. God does not want you to be happy, He/She wants you to be strong! Through adversity we grow and become stronger and better for that suffering. That is if we can find meaning in the suffering. Nietzsche said, “he who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW”. And I guess in a way this relates to my last post and the “So what?” question. You are alive, so what? Make it count, do something with it that is meaningful. For my mom that was her children, her family and her animals. For me it is about making a difference: animal rights and feminist rights, and of course, making art that makes a difference also. In this way you find meaning in life. Unfortunately our societies have become very much about consumerism and being consumers. Got to have the new iPhone, got to live in the right neighbourhood, go to the right school. Squeeze out more children; spoil them so that they can also become consumers. Buy huge, petrol-guzzling vehicles and tell yourself it is for safety reasons and never mind what we are doing to the environment. Connect on social media and present yourself as a commodity there too, and bitch and whine but do nothing really. For too many people that is their meaning of life and the world as it is today is the result of that. For too many the idea of being a good provider (consumer) is the meaning of life. No! Go do something meaningful! Make a difference!

Below: My Champers.

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So I guess I like Viktor Frankl’s notion of meaningful grief through the contemplation of one’s beloved. Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War where his entire family (apart from one sister) including his wife, were killed. This was how he survived he says; contemplation of one’s beloved. Suffering somehow allows for transcendence when it finds meaning. Existence or experience moves beyond the normal or physical level. Think Mandela or Mother Teresa or even Marina Abramovic. Similarly contemplation of your lost loved ones as well as imagined conversation can lift you up to a spiritual level and help you make sense of the loss. Inside you they will endure. I like that thought. In my contemplative state my mother remains that youthful, exuberant, warm nurturer who loved to have a house full of children, her own and the entire neighbourhood’s. In my contemplation Champers dozes, pressed up alongside me as I read, purring contentedly.

Below: Me lighting candles in preparation of my 40RTY (2016) performance.

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Champers

Man, will I ever be done crying this year?  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: vile, vile, vile fucking year! 12/12/2012, this auspicious day, brought with it its own special little gift of misery, to add to the abundance of pain, disappointment and just sheer unpleasantness this year, twenty-twelve, has heaped upon me. Yes, I know: boohoo! But seriously!

This is the text message I received yesterday:

 

Heidi – Sorry to not phone you, but I feel too heartbroken!! I had to have Champers put to sleep this am. He never ate much yesterday and last night he couldn’t jump on my bed so took him to the vet this am and he has Leukeamia! The vet said animals go through awful suffering and there is no help… So had to make a call…feel so heartbroken but couldn’t bear to let him suffer!! I held him in my arms while they gave him the injection and told him how much we all loved him! Sorry he was with us for such a short time and thank you for allowing us to love him too!!!xxx Sorry but couldn’t bear to talk to you… I would just sob!! Big hugs Andy x

Me – O no, and he has so been on my mind lately. I am so sad but at least he had you with him, and thank you all for loving him so. O my poor boy, I will miss him so badly!

 

My dear, dear fluffy buddy, Champers, is gone. I am not ashamed to say that he was my best friend, but I am ashamed, however, to admit that I chose LA Woman over him! I said goodbye to Champers and left him here in South Africa to go and be with her. What a shameful thing to do to someone that loved me so unconditionally. I guess I deserved what I got over in the United States for doing that. In my defence though, I did find him a loving adoptive family; Heidi, a talented artist and a wonderful,  caring soul. Heidi, her husband and her two young children welcomed him into their home, and I left knowing Champers was safe, cared for and loved. My traitorous heart was somewhat assuaged, but I missed him terribly and felt so disgusted with myself. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But know facing the realization of the passing of this gentle, pure little soul, I am wracked with guilt and anger, at myself and at LA Woman! I did not get to spend my time with him and his last months here because of what she wrought in my life and because of my selfishness! I am disgusted with myself! Yes, I did return to South Africa, and yes, Heidi did offer to return Champers to me (she is an amazingly generous, kindhearted person) but how could I do that? It would have just been too cruel to her kids and family, they had also fallen in love with him, so I left him there. But I missed him and he was often on my mind. I resolved to go see him during my Christmas vacation, as much as they would allow me…but he has gone now. So never got to say hello again…and goodbye.

On facebook:

Status:  Rest in peace my little buddy Hope to see you again when its my turn. I love and will miss you terribly.

 

Andrew  Sad day. He passed away. He was my companion for many years and when I left for the US it was the hardest thing to do to leave. Fortunately Heidi, a wonderful friend and artist adopted him. What a terrible year this has been:(

 

Jacky  So sad for you. Fortunately, endings herald in beginnings and that is my wish for you(and a few more special people) – that your new beginnings are going to take your breath away and fill you with awe and deep contentment.

 

Patsy  So sorry Andy but remember because of u he had a good life. Now he will be your little Guarding Angel

 

Tracey-Jayne  Aw little Champers!!!!! Andy, he had the best friend in you, and Heidi!!!!

 

Andrew  What spirit he was!

 

Wendy  Thoughts are with you at this sad time. So sorry. This awful year is almost done and dusted thank goodness.

 

Andrew  I know! Vile vile vile year!

 

Wendy  Evil vile year: “Get thee hence to endless night”….to quote Chris de Burgh, Spanish Train.

 

Michael  Sorry to hear the news Andy.

 

Andrew  Ye sad day:( poor little dude

 

Monique Ann  Sorry Andy so sad, what happened to him?

 

Andrew  Leukaemia

 

Roz  Aah no, so sorry.. Always sad to lose a baby!

 

Heidi  I am so sorry Andy….my kids are devastated …. We will miss him so much but thank you for letting us share his love….if only for a little while! I could not let the little chap suffer…. So hope he has found a comfy place to cuddle up … at peace! He was snuggled up in my arms right up to the end….and he went knowing that he was loved! X

 

Andrew  And Heidi, knowing that is a great comfort, I promise! Thank you! I am just so sad and feel so bad that I left him now. But as you said, I know he knew he was loved. Thank you.

 

Jeannette  I’m so sorry Andy! U gave him such a good life after the terrible start he had. Your life will be forever blessed by the love u had. X x x

 

Andrew  Thank you, Jen. He was such a special soul

 

Nicola  Sorry to read your news… xx

 

Corrina  awww Ands I’m so sorry to hear your sad news xxx

 

Andrew  Yeah thanx heartbroken

 

 

We all should have the quiet dignity of Champers, his strength of character, and his unconditional love and loyalty. He was rescued from an abusive owner by Dr Taryn Turner and her organisation, Hillside Haven. Apparently Champers had been a gift from a girlfriend to her boyfriend, they split up and Champers suffered the consequences. The boyfriend kept him to spite her, but treated him cruelly, leaving him outdoors alone (Champers is a Persian and not an outdoor cat). Eventually the bastard broke the poor cat’s jaw with a broom which caused the neighbours to finally report his cruelty. That is how Champers ended up at Hillside Haven where he was adopted by some friends of mine who, although having all the best intentions in the world, did not quite take into account the reality of taking on such a responsibility. I had bonded with him and simply could not bear the thought of him being left alone and unloved again so I adopted him…and he me. Champers, a traumatized and sickly little spirit, and rake thin, my heart weeped for him. Despite all the trauma and hate in his life up until then all he wanted was to be loved, and I loved him.

 

I am proud to say that he grew with me and was, at the very least, content. He certainly was, as I said, loved by me. We were companions; flat-mates, playmates, soulmates and inseparable. I loved picking him up and cuddling him like a baby, squeezing him to my chest, and I am sure he did too. Although he would pretend to be exasperated by my undignified treatment of him, I would often catch him purring against my chest, his fluff soft against my chin and cheeks. Witnessing Champers’ recovery and subsequent growth of spirit, brought the realization of the very real power of love to me, and the role it plays in the lives of the abused and damaged. (This was something I had experienced with my involvement in an ex-girlfriend’s little girl’s life and was further highlighted by Champers). \

This was how I got involved with the organization, Hillside Haven. They care for abused and damaged animals, rehabilitate them and try to find homes for them. I volunteer there on Saturdays doing fundraising for them. I am here to tell you I get far more in return than I give! As I mentioned previously; we all should have the quiet dignity of these souls, their strength of character, and their unconditional love and loyalty.

So my best friend has passed over. I hope to see him again when it is my turn. I believe animals have souls which is one of the reasons I do not eat them. In my opinion there are very few humans that are worth a single animal’s life, and yet, look at how we treat them. What is wrong with us?

My heart aches for him! What I would give to just hold him one more time and to look into those huge, glowing amber eyes of his and tell him how much I love him. If there is anything good that can be taken away from this, and I hope you do too, dear reader, it is this: do not put off telling and showing a loved-one just how much you do love them. You may never get that chance again.

RIP Champers, my friend. I hope you knew how much I loved you, and still do.

 

Champers