Let me start by saying that all I really want to put out there with this post is that I came to a conclusion that probably most have arrived by now, meaning that, in the experience of love – and while caring for those we love – all that is guaranteed is that we’ll fail. In some sense, that is difficult to admit, for it exposes our fragility and lack of control, reinforcing how small we are in the midst of all the chaotic energies and unbalanced balance that make the world spin. On the other hand, understanding that it is impossible not to fail may unburden us of some of the anguish and agony we keep carrying along. Anyway, even if admitting to it, it’s a constant dilema: how to love and let love be free?
All this nonsense is about my family of dogs. Six months ago, in July 25th, we experienced a traumatic event and lost our dearest Luva. Some motherfucker put poison in the fields where we hike (others do us well) and she didn’t make it. Fast forward to January 7th and there we were experiencing it all over again. Another field and another outcome, for Nagika, the dog who got poisoned this time, managed to survive. It was exactly the same thing (really fast to enter the nervous system and put them in coma), but she made it. She put up a tremendous fight and came back.
The trauma we experienced, on the other hand, made the grieving still in course worst. What can one do, I ask? Put the dogs permanently on a leash is no solution. Some friends tell me that’s what I should do, but I’m sure that’s not the answer. For now it’s a way to handle the not knowing how to behave, but it has no future. Even on a leash, I’m unable to keep my eyes permanently on them and I blink, they’ll eat something and I’ll fail. It’s just no way to live. Sometimes I remember my punk days when all of us walked around with our dogs with no leashes. Wherever we went, they’ll always have a good amount of space to react freely and behave as dogs. There was a more “natural environment” for them, or so we thought. They were happier. We were happier. Then societies became overly compartmentalized and sterilized and everything is becoming ever more difficult.
Given the circumstances, I’m sure I’m going to fail and part of the process of recovering from the guilt that comes with having failed to save Luva is knowing I’ll fail again. What now then? I honestly don’t know, but maybe all I can do is try to guarantee that their time alive is spent well, in a stress-free environment and this trying to prevent them from getting hurt is a source of stress. Where then can one find a stress-free environment? Where can we run to in order to find a place with no motherfuckers? See, this is also the wrong question, but I’m unsure which solutions to look for these days.
While trying to overcome the trauma of losing Luva, photography played a big role and part of that process will eventually be published in a book. I was photographing during the hike when it happened. Guilt resulted from that as well. I felt like I shouldn’t have let myself be distracted. Maybe if I’d kept my eyes on them at all times. Maybe if… After that there was a hiato, before I was able to take the camera back on walks again, but photographing was part of the journey to survive the trauma and prevent the stress from contaminating those walks. I had to take my eyes off them. I had to let them run. I just had to.
This time around it’s a different story. While Nagika dropped to the floor and Luva’s ghost took over her body, I couldn’t believe what was happening. For about 5 seconds, I just couldn’t believe, but quickly the phantom ruptured through me and I reacted. As it happened, I was convinced she wouldn’t die, only because I was unable to comprehend how I’d managed to survive that. Denial, I guess, some sort of defense mechanism to prevent shock from gaining control of my body, but also wanting to find some sort of sense in Luva’s death and thinking that it had to at least – it just had to – help save Nagika.
By the end of the day, when the doctors reassured me that she would make it, I put the camera in a drawer and I haven’t picked it up since. I don’t know how long that will last, but I can’t see how the pleasure of photographing the times spent with them during our walks will ever come back. We’re still hiking, for now with them on long leashes. We often stop, we experience the cold wind on our bodies, the sun warming our faces, but it’s different. We’re on damage control. As I cross the fields, the cliffs and the shores, I imagine we carry giant invisible bubbles around us that prevent that post-traumatic-stress from making us shiver. Nagika shivers, she shivers a lot daily, she keeps shivering. We’ve lost control again and I’ll fail. I’m sure I’ll fail to make her imortal, so I think all I can do is try and make her believe that she’s safe, even if she’s not. I’ll have to teach my body to lie to her, which is something out of this world, given how dogs read our moods like nothing else.
Agony is installed again. The sleepless nights, the hypervigilant mood, the memory losses… it came back before it went away. It’s a process and this time around I don’t see how photography can help. But I will, I’m sure. By the end of this year, as I was going through all the photographs that will eventually become the aforementioned book, I thought I was starting to be safe from that spiral of grief. My therapist tells me one death brings back all deaths, like all griefs we thought had been processed came back unresolved, amounting to a giant pile of shit (the last part is mine, not the therapist of course). By the end of the year, I was able to look at all portraits of Luva without constantly reliving that day, able to remember good things. A few days after, when all hell broke loose again, I wondered what this all meant, then heard my own voice saying that all is meaningless and nonsense. Thought about setting the house on fire and then, once again, turned to Amenra.