It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Well, we had house guests for the last 10 days and I was kept busy showing them around Melbourne. In the midst of all that, hubby fell sick with the flu, and Chloe ingested some macadamia nuts that one of my house guests had left in a paper bag on the floor (she of course ripped open the bag in no time). So, there was a tense 48 hours of watching and waiting while my poor girl vomitted and refused to eat. The vet told me that there has been no cases of fatal poisoning with macadamias but she could show signs of weakness, depression, vomiting, ataxia, tremors or hyperthermia. Thankfully, she returned to her usual cheeky self within 24 hours. But this incident did bring to mind the fact that she was not going to be around forever. I have friends who have lost pets and they say it’s like losing a member of your family. I have no doubt that that is how it feels and I am dreading the day when I will have to say goodbye to my little girl forever. Just the thought of it brings a huge lump to my throat.
I have had to say goodbye to a few people in my life… My grandmother (on my mum’s side) was the best grandmother anyone could ask for and I wish we had more time together. My grandfather (on my dad’s side) left us when I was only 12 but my memory of him is of a man who followed his principles in life without faltering and who could see through the failings of an asian culture that encourages sexism. He never made me feel that I was a lesser person just because I was born a girl. He believed that I could accomplish anything I wanted to do and be who I wanted to be. He was a man ahead of his time and I wish I had the chance to learn more from him as I was growing up. And Kevin… All my hopes and dreams for life tied to this one man, and although he fought so hard, he couldn’t stay with me.
The one year I spent with Kevin as he was fighting his battle with cancer made me truly understand the important things in life. Suddenly, when life has an expiration date, all the superfluous things in life gets stripped away. So what are the important things in life? Everyone has their own lists. For Kevin it was photographing his favourite spots (he said that a picture captures the moment), creating memories and his aquarium. I remember in the last days of his life, he was constantly looking through our photo albums, reminiscing about the times we spent together. He told me stories of times spent with close friends during his uni days, the escapades and trouble they would get into… They were stories that he had never shared with me in the 6 years that we were together. But when time was running out, it seemed like he needed to tell someone his memories, so they would live on after he was gone. One day, I shared this with Brandon and he got a little emotional when he heard that his good friend was thinking about him and the times they spent together, even as he was dying. He pulled out a photo and showed me a picture of the group of them on a boys’ trip to Gold Coast. It was exactly as Kevin had described.
Having spent the last two weeks rushing around, and contemplating having to lose Chloe one day, has made me pause to take stock of my life. Having moved from Adelaide to Melbourne 3 years ago, I have been sucked into the big-city way of living – constantly on the run, always in a rush. Perhaps I have lost track of what makes life worth living. Perhaps I have lost track of the little pleasures in life. For me, that has always been – having a coffee at a café while watching the world go by, walks in the park, sleeping in on a cold winter’s day, snuggled up to a loved one, scented candles, warm bubble baths, jazz and classical music. It just occured to me that I’ve only done a couple of these things in the last 6 months.
The French have a very different way of living. They understand the importance of ‘les petits plaisirs de la vie’, and make time for it. There’s a reason why most shops are closed for about 2 hours for lunch every day. Yes, even the mayor’s office, butcher, pharmacy’s doors are closed with a huge ‘FERMÉ‘ sign stuck to the door. In fact, we found that the only place that remains open over lunchtime is the restaurant. This is because for the French, eating is one of the pleasures in life. It should never be rushed, but instead savored and enjoyed. One might consider this frivolous. But I have come to realize that the French are on the right track. In our fast-paced modern life, we need these ‘petits plaisirs de la vie’ to nourish and feed our souls. I think it’s time to run that bubble bath.