It was yet another brilliant day on Ko Lanta, Thailand. A day where the group had decided that we should rest, rest as normal people do in the land paradise.
I had woken up early, disturbed by the light, the footsteps, the light sheets and heat. In the morning, I rushed out and ate breakfast. Everyone was preparing to just hang out at the beach—the beach everyone described we have it for ourselves! But strangely, I felt the air was different…it felt disturbed.
But then I decided to check my email. The first subject I saw was “Peppy is gone…”
I was holding him as he took his last breath… the message trailed off in unspoken tears.
I immediately asked to borrow Shipra’s phone, but unfortunately he was in the airport boarding, currently in security. It was the first time he had heard my voice in over 9 days. His voice obviously was masked by anxiety of talking on the phone, but I could tell what he was feeling. I could almost see the stone wall falling, masking his sorrow. Normally, I would be there lifting and holding the stone wall up but I couldn’t be there. I was on the other side of the world surrounded by happy faces in paradise filled with ready tropical freshly sliced pineapple, beckoning beaches and supple masseuses on call.
I said I would call later.
In the town on my own later, I impulsively bought a couple-themed shirt—pirate girl and pirate boy. A gift, but not a remedy.
When I saw Shipra again, I asked to borrow her phone. And I dialed internationally again. The group was going to town to the dive shop and for lunch. I followed slowly, now knowing the sorrow.
I never knew Peppy, but Peppy was the life that Chris had known as a child. Perhaps the kind sibling, the best friend who equated to his craziness and energy. A dog that he had got shortly after he moved back to LA after a shift in family. I never had a pet beyond a fish…and only knew attachment to non-humans as the attachment I had with my computer and beloved stuffed animals.
In college, I remember a professor once saying that there was no excuse that someone missed an assignment beyond a family member dying. A student interrupted saying that a death of a family pet is nearly significant. I don’t remember what happened, but I must have not understood since when a friend’s dog died while she was in school, I gave a sad look and said nothing more.
So on the other side of the world, I was trying to comfort him as I walked with the group to the street. My sunglasses were on of course, and I could sense his despair hidden only by silence on the phone. I rattled on a few things about my day…then apologizing…for my near indifference. But as I prattled on, it stung…the fact that he had lost someone…after awhile, I said I would call him and be there for him. I am here.
As I got on the truck with everyone else to go to the Ko Lanta Divers, I opened up a moist towellette from my bag to wipe my tears under my sunglasses away and said aloud, “Wow, it’s hot here.”