“Nepal is a sad place. People are sad, dogs are sad, all is sad here.” He spoke from beneath heavy eyelids, weighted with concern for my broken heart.
I had tried to help her, with all of my hope and love and care. That deep well of compassion that I had inherited from my palliative-care nurse Mother, it all went to her and I was consumed with her survival. There were moments when hope sparked my belief that she would live. The moment when she took water from a syringe, and when I heard her sigh and relax knowing she was finally safe. She was lying in a cage wrapped in a warm blanket I had purchased for her, her outstretched foreleg attached to an IV drip. The maggots from the wound in her hindquarter were gone, removed with tweezers, and the wound bathed and powdered.
She would live I told her vet, who had seemed doubtful. She would live I told myself, because I had had enough of her suffering. I carried her sadness like I was a conduit of life-force to distribute light back into her body. A living sarcophagus to preserve the tragedy of her neglect by those humans who had pushed her aside and stepped over her instead of helping her. Her suffering brought me heartache and drove me to her rescue, because I wouldn’t and I felt I couldn’t, turn my back on that kind of pain.
Today, I remember her in photos. The disturbing images I kept on my phone of a dying dog on a garbage heap, surrounded by three puppies that curled their tiny flea ridden bodies around her for warmth, and who howled into the darkness in mourning after she was gone.
I shouted my anguish from the depths of my heart when she died, pounding my fists into the metal sides of her cage, while she lay inanimate, her lips curled away from her teeth. I cried for days afterwards, bursting into uncontrollable sobs every time the image of her lifeless body entered my mind. It wasn’t fair. I had loved her. She should have lived, because life could not be so sad. The children in her neighbourhood said she used to follow them to school. How could they have let her suffer, and why was I the only one to see her in a community of people who called the same streets home?
Nepal is full of beauty and sadness, in any given moment you may experience both, and I have embraced a different kind of love there. Pure, strong, ethereal love, sometimes irrelevant to happiness, and rather enhanced by loss. The kind of sadness that inspires art, moves audiences and often ends in tragedy. Nepal is where my love for sadness grew, in the beauty of a positive emotion often misinterpreted for something to be feared. I believe that sadness is cathartic for humanity, because when we can transform feelings of suffering into healing, it does enhance our capacity for love.. An Indian man once told me “ we only ever cry for love, for the having of it and for the loss of it.” I believe that when we feel sad, it is an opportunity to expand our hearts, and to go there into that dark place to find all the love we need. In spite of my best efforts to help her she died, because she had been neglected for far too long before I found her. She was only 2 years old and the Mother of seven puppies that died each by each, except for one. Sometimes when I sit facing that one survivor, while I am looking in her eyes and petting her face I talk to her of her Mother and her brothers, and I tell her how much I loved them, and that I hope they can see how much she is now loved. I gave myself to their suffering, to take some of their pain away, and my heart grew with love for them.
Written in memory of a dog who had no name, and her only surviving puppy who made it off the street and into my home, my beloved dog Dawa.