A Soft Spot in My Heart for Animals

The topics of most value to me, the ones that really mattered, I have delayed for too long to write and post here. I’m relieved to be finally doing it. After this one, I guess I’m just about done with the fundamental realities my son should learn about me. Everything else that will come next is more or less of secondary importance.

My affection for animals has always played a significant part in my life. An inexplicable compassion that mysteriously developed within me during my early teenage years. Puzzlingly, I’m the only one in the family who carries this much heart for animals. I think it all began at around 9 or 10 years of age when I witnessed my uncle brought home a “live” chicken meant to be eaten for lunch. I was still apathetic then and even joined my cousins and siblings as they laughed at how funny the chicken looked when my uncle skinned it first before proceeding to “kill” it. After that, I realized what an unpleasant ordeal for me to watch an animal die.

 

“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”   – William Ralph Inge 

 

In the years that followed, I got devastated every time a pet dog died. After my mourning period, I would want time to advance fast so I could distance myself further from the sad ending. Then I’d try my very best not to dwell on or think of the deceased beloved pet anymore so as not to miss it terribly.

I cried hard when my parents decided to throw away every cat that became a household pet. I, with my brother’s assistance, managed to pick them up on the streets when they were still stray kittens. I treat every pet we’ve had as like family members. They’ve all been precious to me. So you can just imagine the agony I experienced when I lost each one of them for good.

When I was in my 20s, a relative gave my mother again a chicken meant to become our meal. I asked my mom to spare its life. But she countered “What, you mean we’re going to keep it as a pet?” I failed to convince her, so the poor chicken ended on our dining table. I was so upset deep down, refusing to join them in eating the animal that I saw alive just hours earlier. My mom told my Dad about it. I heard him say “That’s the way she is. There’s nothing we can do about that.”

I hate to see a cat’s body lying on the street after being run down by a car. I hate to hear any story about animal cruelty. I can’t even watch cable channels that feature the realism of “survival of the fittest” in the jungle. It’s always been heartbreaking for me to see or watch an animal suffer. Sometimes I wish I weren’t like this.

I have no intention of taking dogs as pets again. I don’t wish to be fraught with heartaches at this point in my life or in my future. I’m determined to put that specific era behind me. I do have a cat now which could have been a mistake when I decided to pick it up on the street several years ago (that would merit another post). Having been thrown away by their original owners, her (my cat) twin sister died after being run down by a vehicle. She refused to leave her sister’s side. I had to force her to get away from the dead body by taking her someplace else which ended to be my home. I couldn’t think of any other safe place to take her so she ended up staying for good. Nonetheless, my beloved cat has given me a lot of joy (and yes, a few headaches) since then. 

For this post, I wrote a eulogy meant for all the pets I had had in the past. They appear in my dreams every now and then, as if they were very much alive and well. I might have tried to bar their memories from my mind as much as I could so I wouldn’t miss them. But God how I still miss them all.

                                                            

IN MEMORY OF THE PETS I ONCE HAD

I already lost you a long time ago

I tried to bury the memories deep down

Convinced that I have grieved enough in your departure

I remember how hard I cried

When you breathed your very last

Never to be seen again

Never to be touched by me.

The agony I had to endure

In losing each of you

Is something I wouldn’t want to go through once more.

So all these years

I’ve tried hard not to call to mind

my wonderful memories of you.

I had even asked time to put as much distance

Between me and all those precious recollections.

Yet here you are

Inside another world

Where I see you all so alive and well

Waiting for my care and attention

Anticipating my tender strokes on your head

To be hugged dearly to both our heart’s content.

I’d given you love

You always gave me a hundred times more

I’ve never received that much devotion

Or a love so pure in my whole life.

I know this can’t be real

It’s just too good to be true

Being with you one more time.

Yet as soon as the sun rises

As soon as I open my eyes

You’ll all be gone

And I’ll be left with the realization

This is just one of those recurring dreams

I keep on having for years.

Somehow, my memory is glad to take hold of you..

May I never forget your names

All of you who remain dear to my heart,

So when I get to pet heaven someday

I’m going to find you all

I’ll be calling out your names one by one,

Then each one of you

Will come running to me

Oh I’ll be so happy to see you

And be able to touch you once more

Then we’ll run in the fields

Play together, be together

Without the earthly concerns of time, sickness or death

We’ll all be happy together forevermore.

And the greatest joy will be upon me.

 

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4 thoughts on “A Soft Spot in My Heart for Animals

  1. This resonates with me so much, Marj. I love animals so much. I can’t bear any news or photos or stories about animals suffering or dying, including nature programs that just show the circle of life. I have no problem handling bad news about people, but not about animals. I’ve had many cats throughout my life, and it’s been horrible to have to say goodbye to each of them. But there are so many animals who need homes–as much as it hurts when they die, it would hurt me more not to help by adopting more pets. I have three cats now, and when they move on, I know it will be sad but I’ll have no choice but to give homes to more little ones after that.

    • Madame, it’s so much a pleasure to find you here once again. I’m happy that this particular post which subject is quite precious to me resonated with you. “I have no problem handling bad news about people, but not about animals.” My exact sentiments as well. I’ve always thought I’m the only one who feels that way. So glad to know I’m not alone.

      The truth is, I manage to provide my cat a home even in the enclosed tiny apartment I’m dwelling in. There were a few times when my son would come home after school and I’d sheepishly tell him about a seemingly dying kitten I had picked up in the middle of the street and brought to the rooftop (uppermost part of our building). He’d say “Mom, it will surely die anyway.” I counter with “I know, but at least it will die with a little more dignity.”
      There were times too when I went out of my way to be of help, even if it’s just minor, to these lovable creatures regardless of their looks, breed or whoever owns them.

      I commend you for being able to shelter and nurture animals in need totally without reservations, Madame. People like you constantly give me hope and inspiration. You are such a wonderful person and a role model. I am honored to have met you.

    • I am remarkably pleased to learn that, although I’ve already surmised from your blog your heart-warming fondness for our four-legged friends. Always nice to know the softer side of you, MrMary.
      One of the reasons I believe the Americans are among the very best people in the world is the tenderness they unconditionally carry in their hearts for almost all kinds of animals. It’s just so touching.

      It gladdens me so to find you here. Thank you, MrMary.

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