"People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn't forget it. You become responsible forever for what you've tamed..." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little PrinceI was heavily pregnant with Red when I met Otter for the first time at a friend's home in Kuala Lumpur. My friend, Lady L, was looking a for a home for him. The shiniest black fur, playful intelligent eyes, and hop hop hopping along confidently like a little boss despite his young age. As soon as we met, I was in love. A look, then a touch of his soft fur, and I was done for. The moment I exclaimed 'Otter' as if greeting an old friend, W knew we were going to have to bring him home with us.
Wept as I stroked him for the last time, saying thanks and goodbye. The kids stood by as I carried his body delicately into a box, to prepare him for cremation. He left so abruptly, likely from a haze-induced lung infection that had weakened him over time. During dinner, the kids and I were telling Otter stories to each other, celebrating the 5+ years he spent with us. This is the kids' first real brush with death that they will both remember, and as expected, it has hit Roo more than Red. Before they slept, the kids asked to print photos of Otter, and proceeded to post them all over our home.
Once the kids were asleep, W accompanied me to bring Otter's body for cremation, and there was something beautiful about connecting over shared grief and guilt. It felt like well and truly an end of a chapter. Stepping back, there is a recognition that funeral ceremonies are truly for the living -- to acknowledge, remember, say goodbye, and seek support. There will be more questions from the little ones, about loss, life, death, and afterlife, but there will also be many fondly shared Otter stories.