In my poem ‘Mr Devil & The Art of Suffering’ I hope to express why suffering is sometimes considered a blessing in disguise and that in order to grow as a person, trials and hardship are necessary; for only by hardship can true virtues demonstrate their strength; and real beauty can only be exposed by ugliness.
Out of suffering emerges beauty;
Torturous, masterful, yet painstakingly slow;
A torment of which few actually know;
Behind each line and permanent scar;
Define the lives of those who avoided lies;
Who conquered deceit and the obstruction of fear;
Who lived far away yet remained so near.
The devil crept and built a home inside her mind;
From betrayal he drove each rusted knife;
Into her heart for he wished to claim her life;
True danger prevailed when one path was lying.
The darkness, the ugliness, it grew so weak;
Weakness that slowly turned pitiful and bleak;
For festering beneath;
Lay love and compassion, it was the horror that woke it;
And with it he had to submit to defeat.
He was forced to flee from the tortured mind;
For ugly is ugly only to those who are blind;
The trickster’s mistake? Disturbing it from its sleep;
He failed to see;
That beauty is beauty only as skin is so deep.
One year ago, my lovely little Jack Russell, Elsa, who was six, passed away from a malignant tumor. One week she was the same playful dog she always was; the next week she had died in my arms. Words cannot begin to express how much I miss her.
I chose her from a litter of five and the truth was that I had originally been most interested in picking a male, rather than a female. But my father passed her to me, casually asking me what I thought of her. She was so tiny that she fit into my palm. I held her up close to my face and peered into her eyes in a rather skeptical manner; she then proceeded to lick my nose and I thought, this is the one! The rest is history.
Elsa was extremely beautiful for a Jack Russel (I often thought she resembled Audrey Hepburn, though the wide-eyed looks that followed whenever I mentioned this hinted that no one else agreed with me). She was also incredibly playful, fiercely brave, rather rude to other dogs (she would often stick her nose up at them whenever they came sniffing around) and highly sensitive (she ignored me for a good few hours once when I had stayed out overnight.) All in all, she had the vivacious, independent character of her kind, and more. So on the day we found out that this small lump in her neck was actually a vicious tumor and would slowly kill her, we had no choice but to put her to sleep. Within the space of a week, the lump had increased in size, equal to the weight of her head and the vet informed us that if she continued to live until the end, the tumor would eat into her neck and choke her to death.
So we planned the best death for her that any dog could possibly have. The day before she died, I asked the vet to give her an injection that would provide her with energy for a few hours, for she was so lethargic at that point that she could barely move. He obliged and those last few precious hours were spent with us running and chasing each other in the park, as we had done so many times before. For a brief blissful moment, I could imagine that there was no tumor, that she was not going to die and that she was the same happy, healthy dog she always had been. We bought her a delicious steak that she greatly enjoyed and, that night, I cuddled her and told her many things.
The next morning we took her to the vet, that final hurdle before we had to say goodbye. I wanted her to know that I was going to be with her until the very end. They muzzled her, but she didn’t resist. I think she knew it was time for her to go. I held her in my arms, caressed her and kept telling her what a good girl she was; they injected her with a lethal substance and she slid gently down on the table. And I cradled her with a grief that seemed too powerful to bear.
We had Elsa cremated and she now sits in a plant pot on my window sill. I will never forget my little dog for she brought a joy to me that I had never experienced before. There is no doubt in my mind that she is up there somewhere, wagging her tail, being snooty to the other dogs that have passed away and waiting for me to see her again. I had written a poem for her the day before she departed, which is below. God sometimes takes away the ones we love the most but this is not to be cruel or unkind; it is because he knows, as so many of us do, that there is a better place that we go to after life, where sickness, suffering and sorrow do not exist. It is here that my dog waits for me and where all those who have passed wait patiently for those who are left behind. This promise is made to us because such overwhelming love never exists in vain and even death cannot break it; he can only stall it. There is no such thing as goodbye; just goodbye for now.
My beautiful little Elsa
Time to sleep
Death has chosen to slyly creep
And take what doesn’t belong to him
And sprinkle the grief that Pain must bring
This cruel mist and blinding fog
Will soon take the life of my little dog.
So we will have one last perfect day
Without suffering or sadness or the thought of decay
Where Elsa will play and run and be glad
These last hours are not a time to be sad
But to remember how special and loved she is
A beautiful dog who will be greatly missed,
And though untimely for she did not hit seven,
They say all dogs go to Heaven,
And though Time was not with us from the start
Time will mend the cracks of my broken heart
Time will do his best to ease this pain
Time is the reassurance I will see her again.
Goodbye Elsa, soon you will be all brand new
For God has promised me he will look after you
For now I’ve got to stay and you must go through this door
But one day I’ll walk through and join you once more.
And no matter how long it is we are apart
You’ll always be number one
And hold a special place in my heart.