Beginning of the end

I have met enough people in the world to know that I am one of the minority that sees pets as family and treats them as such or even better than that. 
That's where it all started. 

I have left people I loved before for reasons irrelevant to this post, but Jasper, my Poodle buddy, was the hardest one to leave behind. We had bonded beyond any previous friendships I had, but I had to move away to end a strange series of heavy months of insanity at work. I left hoping to be able to come back to San Francisco at a later time.

My decision was quick and effective. By the end of that month, I had opened a marketing and video production company. I moved out of the city and my first client kept me busy for quite a while. 

Since my departure, I came by to visit Jasper twice. 18 months later I was ready to return. 

It was mid 2009 on the day before flying back to San Francisco, this time to stay, when my ex wife and best friend contacted me to let me know that Jasper had collapsed. His kidneys had failed and he had just gone through complex surgery that would not guarantee more than two months of life.

I arrived in SF with my heart heavy and my only desire was to be next to Jasper in the house where we used to live with my ex-wife, Lisa. Jasper laid on the couch where I joined him and stayed until the next day. He lived four more months and I gave my every day to spending time with him until his pain was evidenced by a whole night of constant curling up accompanied by the sound of suffering.

In the morning I informed Lisa of Jasper's state, and against my will, I agreed to have a professional come to visit us and put Jasper to sleep. We took him for a last walk to the Golden Gate Park and after a beautiful sunny day smelling "peemail", flowers and other things, we drove back home.
I wanted Jasper to have the smoothest exit.

While I sat on a white and hairy carpet with Lisa next to me and Jasper in my arms, the controlled killer gave Jasper the first shot, to make him sleep. I expected the softest touch. But instead, the shot shocked Jasper into more pain and a scream, likely from fear, that made me feel as if I was the perpetrator. I held him tight as he fell into sleep in a matter of five minutes.

The second shot took his life, and I felt his body become lighter as my heart gained weight that I have carried for years since his departure.

Not knowing how to behave and feeling guilty for my friend's pain at the time of saying goodbye, I feared that the confusion caused to him by the pain inflicted, while in my arms, might have made him feel lost. In doubt, I moved forward with irrational, but heart felt rituals in attempts to secure safe passage for my little friend. That continued for years.

I had asked my Lisa if I could stay near his exit room, which was her bedroom. I ended up moving into a closet next door, which I eventually named "The Cave". It was a small storage space that I was not able to come out from for my complete lack of interest in doing anything other than praying for my friend's safe passage. They were prayers to those that I do not remember who might have known me before, prayers to those who might have heard my call, prayers that they would guide my friend, were he to find himself confused and lost, so he could get to his destiny, in peace.

2008 before leaving the city.

2009 the night I returned to San Francisco.

Three or four months later, Lisa rescued another dog that looked like a smaller version of Jasper. We became friends too. And I came to terms, once again, with the loss of a loved one. But internally, the sense of guilt continued to weigh heavy.

With a precise and minimal amount of gear to shoot with, I had come back to San Francisco to make movies, but I had again been run over by death, to again be reminded of the long list of lost loved ones.
The subject I originally wanted to make a movie about was put on a back burner, and I instead dove into a story that hit closer to home back in Uruguay and all I had buried there--the longing, the disconnection, the loneliness, the speechlessness, the separation, exclusion, isolation, abandonment, death and love. 

I wrote the screenplay for RICE while I slowly straightened my back into my usual and unstoppable disposition. The one that took me from script to post production in seven years, where sacrifice was my paper and focus was my pen. Where my characters became immortal under the label of true independent filmmaking. And all of it passing through, to share a story of love, without emotional price tag or intention of being attached. 

To life.

Testing a new camera used to shoot RICE, with a depth of field adapter and Nikon prime lenses.
These are excerpts from footage taken during Jasper's last four months. 

Next post, I'll talk about "The Cave". My home for nearly four years.