A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.
The narrow and windy unsealed road to mum’s land was a nightmare to drive. It was full of pot-holes that were impossible to dodge and every time I drove it I prayed I wouldn’t meet another car as there was no room for two. It was like playing russian roulette. My loaded up van did well scaling the steep and slippery vertical hill up, only to meet a culvert and a knee-deep stream on the other side which in heavy rain is impossible to cross.
I arrived in their valley in Northland, which felt so far away from civilisation, and was greeted by mum’s smiling face who then directed me to park in a small clearing a few minutes walk from her and her partner’s house.
They had cleared out a lovely space for us in the bush. There was a homely tent set up for my daughter and a flat space to park my van.
It was a welcome escape from Auckland and over the next three months we easily settled into country living.
During the evenings my daughter and I would climb into mum’s bed to watch a nightly movie together on her laptop, which ran off a generator when there was no sun for the solar panels. I would then walk back a few metres to my van and be blown away by the clear night sky which was lit up with stars. I would often find myself walking through spider webs and I would catch possums scurrying around looking for food, but I loved the wildness of it. I loved my new lifestyle in the bush.
Mum and her partner’s way of life was simple. They have no electricity other than the sun, she hand-washes all their clothes, they organically grow all their food and they are completely self-sufficient.
Their house is basic but functional. A small one bedroom lean-to with concrete floors and exposed wooden beams holding up an inner plastic sheeted roof. They upgraded a pre-existing shack, which was built off the side of an old house bus, with wood and GIB that was gifted to them by an ex-boyfriend of mine.
Their kitchen has a small oven and two burner gas stove, an old dressing table for storing dishes and a hose for the kitchen tap. They have little furniture or possessions apart from some rickety old chairs and a table that was gifted to them, but there is no need for anything else.
Their cold outdoor shower is a hose with a sprinkler attached that is tied up high in the trees, in between clear plastic and held up by bamboo in amongst their leafy garden. On sunny days the water, which runs off the roof, heats up in the sun and in winter they have an old iron bath that sits under the trees.
Their chickens roam free in the garden and there is a beautiful fresh water stream surrounded by native bush that runs through their property, complete with swimming holes and eels.
I have always admired the simplicity of my mother’s lifestyle. She is happy and she was happy to share her home with us.
I was lucky to have their friend’s deserted old adobe style mud brick house to use as my own yoga studio. The walls were adorned with coloured glass bottles and it was perched high up on a ridge near their land. After a sweep to remove all the cobwebs it was perfect. I had to hike up a steep grassy, overgrown driveway but it was worth the effort. I spent many days practicing yoga in this beautiful space and mum would often come and join me.
Christmas arrived fast and we spent a lovely, relaxed day together. We prepared a mainly raw feast from the garden and I roasted an organic free-range chicken.
Festivities aside, I was still organizing my affairs and deciding on a yoga course in India. Much to my relief, my car had finally sold and I was so happy that things were falling into place. I now had the money to pay for my yoga training and turn my dreams into a reality.
I spent the next few weeks delving into my creativity; creating, planning and laying down the foundations for a new life outside of New Zealand.
As New Years Eve approached, I was so glad to see the back of 2014. A year that will forever be etched into my mind and heart. The year I gave up everything to follow my heart and live a life more in line with my truth. But as I was yet to realise, I still had a few more hurdles to cross before embarking on the next leg of my journey.
Nonetheless, I was determined to celebrate the end of a very challenging year so after much debate us girls ended up in an overcrowded local pub dancing the night away to a U2 tribute band.
2015 was going to be a good year and I was going to make damn sure of it!
It was a few days into the new year and somehow it was already not living up to my expectations. I realised it was partly because I was still carrying around pain from my previous relationship and I knew I needed to let him go but for some reason I was finding it extremely hard. Letting go was not something I was very good at. It was like I still had a relationship with him inside my head and I didn’t want to be carrying him around with me any longer.
I needed a fresh start and I wanted to begin the new year on the right note so I sat on the banks of mum’s fresh water stream and cried my eyes out. I watched my tears fall as they merged with the water and floated off down stream to became one with nature and in that moment I became one with the stream and a part of me that I didn’t want to acknowledge.
Without understanding it, I had integrated the painful parts inside of me and with a sense of wholeness, I wrote him a letter and I finally let him go.
Five years of pain and I let him go.
When I left the stream I felt it’s spirit had washed away my heartache and I could now move forward in life without the emotional baggage of a previous partner weighing me down.
With renewed energy and feeling much clearer, I finally booked into a yoga course that was on my short list. I was going to train Mysore style, in an Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga school in South Goa and to my complete surprise mum told me she wanted to come too so I decided to take my daughter.
March was only two months away and we wanted to spend one month travelling around India and Nepal after my training so we now had a whole trip to book.
My daughter’s boyfriend came to stay and the three of us went off to camp at Matai Bay to give mum and her partner a break while mum searched for cheap flights.
Meanwhile, during the weeks leading up to this I had been advertising Kyra on the community notice board and I had finally found her a new home.
We had been slowly introducing her to a gentle old man who lived on a farm. He had another dog that was at the end of it’s life so he was looking for a replacement companion and It seemed like the perfect situation but the day had now come to leave her with him.
As we drove towards his house we all cried and said our good-byes. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life, but I knew she would be going to a good home. I set her bed up inside his house, kissed her goodbye and told her to stay as I drove away.
We arrived at Matai Bay to beautiful sunny weather and heavy hearts. I tried to enjoy the beach and as the day went on I came to accept knowing that she was in a good place.
The next morning I received a call from Kyra’s new owner who told me she had opened the door and escaped down the road after us when we drove away. Luckily he caught her otherwise she may have become lost in the bush, but she bit him on the arm so he put her in a dog cage over night hoping she would calm down. When he tried to put a lead on her the following day she bit his arm again, this time quite badly, so he wanted me to go and collect her.
Upset by the news, I phoned mum who drove out to get her and thankfully she looked after her until we returned from camping at Matai Bay.
When we arrived back Kyra looked traumatized by all the events that took place in our absence and she was jumping around in excitement to see us.
I was so happy to see her again but I feared what would become of her. I was now faced with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to safely rehome her incase she bit someone else.
I phoned my dad, who was now living at my sister’s house and he told me not to worry and that he wanted to have her and something would work out however I was weary of relying on him.
I tried to let go and trust that something would work out for her and at that point it didn’t enter my mind that I may have to put her to sleep.
A few weeks passed and our trip to India was looming. I still hadn’t found a solution for Kyra and to make matters worse there had become a huge rift in the family. My dad had suddenly sided with my sister who appeared to have a vendetta against me so I now had to count him out of the solution for Kyra.
I was like the glue that held my small family together, I provided transportation and a place for my mum to stay when she visited Auckland, I supported my sister through her pain around loosing custody of her only daughter and I was company for my lonely dad who lived with my daughter and I in our house in the city.
When I told everyone I was moving away things went down-hill pretty fast and I was now the black sheep of my black sheep family.
My sister sent me a threatening message, which at the time destroyed me and my father became hostile towards me in support of her as he was now living at her house. Adding to the mayhem, my dysfunctional cousin on my father’s side decided to not pay me for the washing machine I had sold her and had become verbally abusive towards me while swapping ‘stories’ about me with my sister and my auntie on my mum’s side was also sharing ‘stories’ about me with my sister.
Adding to it all, booking the trip was proving to be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and unexpected events, sending us all to our limits. Mum and I were having to face our fears going to India and we were being tested beforehand.
Chaos was all around me!
I was emotionally broken by how my family behaved, especially when all I wanted was their acceptance and support, so for the time being, I had to cut ties with them.
My idea of happy families was obviously not going to be and I clung to the belief that I was going in the right direction despite being threatened, judged and put down by my own flesh and blood.
In time I would heal.
The thought of saying goodbye to Kyra was more painful than saying goodbye to anyone. She had been my protector during all those nights we slept together in the van and she would warn me if there was someone lurking around, which made me feel safe. She was always there for me and she loved me unconditionally. What was life going to be like without her? I couldn’t bare to think.
My daughter’s boyfriend returned to Auckland and my daughter and I continued camping in the van along the coast for a few days as mum’s partner was not in a good space.
On one particular evening, we parked at the end of a car-park that overlooked the water, in a small fishing village and we spent the night talking about life and loss.
In the morning, my daughter went for a walk along the beach and found a shell with a message written on it and a sealed plastic bag was attached to the back. She opened it up and inside contained a religious pamphlet about death.
I’m unsure why the universe put that there for her to find that day but we received the message loud and clear. Life was to be celebrated and not dwelled upon.
We still had to prepare ourselves emotionally to say goodbye to Kyra and we were faced with a very big decision. Should we put her to sleep or should we cancel our trip to India and find a house to live in so that we could keep her alive.
If Kyra could talk, I knew she would have wanted me to follow my dreams. She knew I loved her and I provided her with all I could and I guess she had chosen me to be her family for life. I had saved her from starvation and neglect when she was only a few weeks old and she didn’t want to be left broken hearted and it was as if she had chosen this by being unfriendly and aggressive towards strangers. It was in her nature. Even as a small pup she didn’t like strangers going near her, she would bark and growl, and this was not something I could train out of her. It was a sobering realization and my daughter and I knew we had to put her to sleep.
For the past 6 years I had been suffering from intermittent attacks of debilitating vertigo and dizziness and it was now coming back with a vengeance. I had received numerous tests, which thankfully ruled out a brain tumour and Multiple Sclerosis, and I was later diagnosed with a Vestibular Disorder.
Some days, the dizziness made it impossible to practice yoga and I became worried that I may have to cancel the trip if I wasn’t going to be well enough to go.
It appeared that nearly 6 months of living in my van and all the stress had finally taken it’s toll on my body and only 4 weeks out from my yoga teacher training.
I intuitively phoned my psychic tarot reader for a quick over the phone reading which luckily restored my faith. She explained that my current health issues were a blessing as it was a warning to get my health sorted out before going to India and I was being well looked after and guided by the universe.
I was committed to healing myself this time or Kyra’s life would be in vain and I would loose out on my dream of becoming a yoga teacher and moving to Byron Bay, so I compiled a 4 week detox plan and ordered all my tonics and supplements online.
I immediately went onto a strict gluten, dairy, meat and sugar-free diet and I religiously took a concoction of herbal tonics and pills everyday. (See my homepage for my complete 30 day detox plan that actually works!)
After 4 weeks I felt amazing. It had worked! I had regained my health back and I was ready to go to India!
My excitement was cut short by the vet’s dreaded phone call to confirm the day that he was coming to put Kyra to sleep. It was going to be on the following day and I had one more night to cuddle her and say my goodbyes.
I couldn’t help but feel angry towards mum’s partner as he was more than capable of having Kyra. In the 3 months that she was there she had settled in well and had proved to not be a problem. She loved being on their farm and she got on well with their dog and had learnt to not chase their chickens. So I decided to tell him how I felt which unfortunately turned into a raging argument.
He eventually returned to talk about the situation and we ended up talking calmly and he said he would reconsider having the dog overnight but to not count on him changing his mind.
I awoke full of pain and with a deep sense of dread. It was Sunday the 15th of February. The day of Kyra’s planned death. She was due to be put to sleep peacefully on their land by the local vet at 1pm. I decided I couldn’t be there to witness her passing and mum had offered to hold her while it was being done so I left in the morning. It was too painful for me to watch. I was loosing my baby.
My daughter and I said our final goodbyes and I drove away but she chased after us. She sensed something was up and she didn’t want to let us go so my daughter had to get out of the van and carry her back into the house.
We arrived in Kaitaia and planned on distracting ourselves with free WIFI at the library, but we couldn’t stop thinking about Kyra. How her body would be buried deep into the ground where it would nourish the earth and her soul would become one with the universe. I prayed that her passing would be quick and painless and she would forgive me.
It was one hour out from 1pm and I received a phone call from mum. She told me that her partner had at the last minute decided to have Kyra.
Suddenly any animosity I had felt towards him disappeared and I was now eternally grateful to him for saving her life. I couldn’t believe it. Kyra wasn’t dieing that day after all. She had been resurrected an hour from her death. I felt an enormous wave of relief wash over my whole body and I thanked the heavens for listening to all my prayers, even if it was down to the last hour.
The universe often worked in mysterious ways and in hindsight, Kyra’s un-passing was a gift as it allowed me to grieve and heal.
My daughter and I continued camping outside of Kaitaia Library and I made the final bookings for our trip. A trip that would involve 11 flights in 2 months, across 3 countries and 7 states in India by way of bus, train, toy train, car and auto-rickshaw.
After a few days, I dropped my daughter off at mum’s and I spent my final week in Northland alone at Matai Bay. My favourite place in all of New Zealand.
I returned, feeling recharged and in good spirits, and made the final drive back up the narrow and windy unsealed road, full of pot-holes, to pack up the tent and prepare for our drive back to Auckland to catch our flight.
Kyra’s grave down by the stream would remain an empty hole and I was now free to leave this country, knowing that my dog was still alive, in search of a new home and a new life.