I thought of starting blogging again when I lost Joey Bear.
I’m no stranger to grief and experiencing significant loss, but this didn’t make it any easier. Joey has always been my big furry ball of sunshine.
I wasn’t around when she died. I wonder if I’ll see her when it’s my turn.
Next month marks her first death anniversary. I wrote this three days after she passed:
“What if your babies turn out to be allergic to dogs?”
My in-laws presented this question to me when I was a few months pregnant with Pancho and Luna. I answered instantly and half-jokingly, “I guess the babies would have to stay with you because Joey was here first.” They knew how Joey was my ultimate baby. I took her with me everywhere I went, and since I met her, I based all my life decisions on her happiness and comfort.
Joey’s a big part of why I’m where I am today. I got her around the time Jim and I first started dating in 2012. I made it clear that this wasn’t a joint-puppy kind of thing. This puppy was not a promise ring. She was Joey Magalona — my child.
Joey taught me how to be a responsible adult and truly prepared me for motherhood. It was through her that I saw how kind and equally responsible my then-boyfriend was. Jim started taking on more responsibilities with Joey, and I found myself falling in love with him and daydreaming about what a great father he’d be to our future children if we decided to have any.
I started writing Joey Magalona-Bacarro when we would take her to the vet.
I joked about how my kids would take a backseat if they turned out to be allergic to Joey, but we knew that couldn’t be the case. When I got pregnant in 2017, we slowly transitioned her to sleeping on a separate bed. It was so she wouldn’t relate the babies’ arrival to her getting kicked off of ours. In my head, I was thinking: she’ll back in our bed when the kids are a bit older.
I had a complicated pre-term birth in 2018. We lost our baby girl, and each night, I would go home to Joey, and she would comfort me from Jim’s lap. She couldn’t be in mine because of my post-op scar. We brought home a very fragile baby boy from the NICU 2 months later. I had no choice but to separate Joey from Pancho because he had a very delicate wound from brain surgery and couldn’t risk Joey’s rough play around him.
She was no longer allowed upstairs. It broke my heart, but Joey was such a good girl. She didn’t fight for attention. She seemed to understand that something was amiss, and we needed a little time to adjust. They started bonding as Pancho grew stronger, and Joey would lick his feet to get him to throw some food off his high chair. When I got pregnant again with Vito, I think Joey understood that she was no longer our baby. She was big Ate Joey, and she was patiently waiting to go on our adventures again. I kept thinking Joey will understand. Between breastfeeding, taking Pancho to his several doctors and therapists, work, and OB-Gyne appointments, I didn’t have the energy to take her to training camp or bake her treats from scratch as I did before.
Both my boys got sick with pneumonia before Vito was even a month old. They had to be confined for over a week, and it was a very traumatic experience for the whole family. When they got home, they were still constantly sneezing, and our pediatrician recommended that we rule out Joey’s hair as an allergen. Thankfully, my mom was more than happy to take her in as she’s the one who looked after her whenever Jim and I would travel. The sneezes and rashes went away, but I always thought of Joey. The temperature is much cooler in Antipolo, and my mom, brother, sister, and their help Gleza and Lang-Lang showered her with so much attention. They sent me videos and photos of her, and she was so so so happy. If I kept her in our house, it would have been for selfish reasons.
Then the lockdown happened, and we couldn’t even visit her. She would say hi to me on Zoom calls with my mom, and they sent me a video of her greeting me a Happy Mother’s Day last Sunday. I had just ordered a big bag of dog food, pee pads, and shampoo for her last week. Last Thursday, I was told she had blood in her pee, and we decided to have her brought to the vet. She had undergone 2 surgeries in the past for bladder stones. The vet sent me x-rays thru e-mail. Her blood test showed she had an infection and that she needed another surgery. I was hesitant because it would be her 3rd operation, and it would be done by a vet I hadn’t personally met, but I had no choice because of the hard quarantine rules at the time. Based on her demeanor the past weeks (she has Resting Smiley Face), we didn’t think things would end up the way they did. When they opened her up, they saw that she had a tear in her bladder already, and that’s what caused complications with her recovery. Jim and I drove for more than an hour through 3 checkpoints to hold her one last time. My mom and Gleza were there, and we all said a prayer for our beautiful Joey Bear.
When we decide to get a dog, we are signing up for a world of pain. We get years of unconditional, crazy love, but there will always come a time to say goodbye. Joey brought us immeasurable happiness for the short time she was with us, and nothing can ever replace it. I am so thankful for my sweetheart, and it brings me comfort knowing that my baby girls are together now. Your papa and I are incredibly grateful for you, Bear. Run free. We will always love you.
I posted this on Facebook and Instagram as a way to honor Joey. It was excruciating to write, but I’m glad I did because people will remember and celebrate her through this post. This is why losing Joey made me want to start blogging again. So that I can keep a record of moments and create these time capsules. The downside to this kind of thinking is that there’s pressure only to publish stuff I want to be remembered by.
I keep having to remind myself that I’m not writing a memoir.
I simply want to share. I want to tell my stories as mundane or as exciting as my days can be. I know reading other people’s thoughts has helped me navigate through life. Surely, not all my posts will make my children proud (wahaha), but if I could leave them some words and photos to remember our moments together, I know it would make them as happy as it made me when I found my old photographs with my Bear.
These days, I tend to sit with my feet up on my chair because I can’t stand not having Joey’s fur brush against me. I don’t want to forget.
To experience this kind of unimaginable pain is to experience this kind of unimaginable true love.