An Ode to Things and a Farewell
So, here we are in part 2 of the ongoing repatriation saga.
Packing and moving over continents is always a stressful act. The emotions tied to watching your possessions be carefully, or not so carefully wrapped and boxed can be overwhelming. It’s easy to dismiss possessions as nothing more than trinkets, clutter that fill your living space, but for most people those are expressions of themselves. The tiny fat dodo bird made of green glass that sits on my mantle may be nothing more than a dust collector to visitors, but for me, it is the embodiment of a carefree, relaxed week with my oldest family friends in Mauritius. It’s the memories of that week, the comfort of being my
self around people who’ve known me almost my entire life, and the memories of childhood holidays with the same people that that week evoked, all encased in a squat glass bird.
Possessions are more than horcruxes for memories, of course. They are
also our outward expressions of our personalities. The deep purple sofa and gold brocade chairs that make up my lounge suite are the embodiment of my love for earthy warmth and opulence. And the red and black wooden bookstand with carved elephants on the door, hints at my heritage. While the stylised acrylic painting of Don Quixote speaks to both my love of literature, and my eclecticism. The things we own, are more than just things. They tell the stories of our lives, our circumstances, our deepest emotions, our very selves. In an era of eschewing possessions, and KonMari-ing ourselves into an unliveable simplicity, I cling stubbornly to these material expressions of me.
Watching strangers handle and wrap my possessions in ways that I would not, was difficult and emotionally exhausting. Probably more so because big moves (and small moves) are always accompanied by a million minions of worry and troublesome tasks. There’s always so much to remember to do, so many varied aspects of your life to wind up. Our hurried preparations were taxed with the rapid pace at which everything had to be completed, the admission that one of the dogs would need to be farewelled from this mortal coil and the other would have to go into long-term boarding, and the fact that we would not be able to sell our house before we left.
At some point in the process, I think I just tuned out emotionally. It was too much to really comprehend, too much to be so perpetually stressed and upset. It was easier just to step back into a clinical approach. It’s what I do in emergencies too. You want me there in a crisis, I’m the one who’ll be dealing clear-headed with injuries, taking notes, and holding doctors accountable. I haven’t always done that, but watching my grandmother gasping in distress for her final breaths while surrounded by a team of medical staff flicked that switch for me.
With the switch flicked, organising our move, the final vet visit for the big dog, and the separation from the holder of my mental health (the small dog) became just a list of to-do tasks to be checked off my list.
With this mindset, I was travelling just fine with farewells, realtors, and schools right up until I took Shadow, my beautiful old dog, my long-time companion, my confidant in to the vet for his final visit. I’m immensely grateful to the vet for confirming that this was the right thing to do. He was carrying more health issues than would ever afford him a decent quality of life. Walking was hard, breathing was hard, everything was hard for him. It would have been a cruelty to keep him going, but I miss him more than I can really say. Even now, I find myself missing his enormous furry body lying across the kitchen floor. I miss his insistent nudge at my leg because he was feeling out of sorts and needed reassurance, or I was. I miss the feeling of absolute safety that his presence inspired. I can’t even write this without dissolving in tears.
Between saying goodbye to Shadow and entrusting the care of Rani, my small furry soul mate, to strangers, I’m stretching the extent of my ability to hold it all together. Particularly because the beginning of her care didn’t get off to a great start (don’t ask me about missing medications or papers, or lack of communication). It has, thankfully, turned around and I’m getting regular updates again. I’m grateful to not be worried about whether or not she’ll even make it to Australia.
Let me leave you with my announcement about Shadow on Facebook. I promise I’ll be more upbeat next time!