It is with sorrow that I am writing to all of you about the passing of my game development partner, He’Ke. It happened unexpectedly today and this post is a way for me to memorialize the loss of my much-loved pet.
If you remember the story, in June 2012 I rescued a chipmunk abandoned by his mother, and raised him like a member of my family.
He’Ke came as a blessing. It was too much of a coincidence to ignore. Actually, ‘providence’ is a much better keyword to describe our meeting. From 2011 onward, my life was very chaotic. If not for his constant joyful presence, I would have never survived those terrible, harsh years. He was always there for me, running and jumping around me to cheer me up, no matter what. He saved me from a sure depression. It’s as if something in the universe knew beforehand I’d need this guardian angel in order to allow keep me moving forward.
I had this intuition He’Ke’s special mission would end once I begin a new chapter in my life, then his role would be fulfilled and he would be called back to where he came from. And here I am, starting a new chapter. Things improved drastically lately―thanks to the good Samaritan who kept encouraging me for years. One week before June, I moved in a giant, loft-like condominium in a very quiet neighborhood. Holy cow, both He’Ke and I were in clover here. It was so obvious the way he explored every nook and cranny of his new place. He had some new favorite spots. It was really cute to see him.
Yesterday night, he went in bed much earlier than usual―nothing indicated sudden health issues―and a few hours ago I decided to wake him up myself only to find out he was lifeless under his nest of blankets. He seemed peaceful with his arms crossed. I hope it’s a sign he passed away in his sleep, without suffering. It’s indeed the last picture I took of He’Ke.
I’ve been crying all evening. I’m still in grief. The apartment feels so empty now. I miss the noise of his jubilant footsteps. I miss when he kept climbing on me—even when I complained he was distracting me in my work. I miss when he slept on my shoulder while I was working on my projects. Damn. I’m all alone now. It’s still difficult to accept this as true. I expected we’d eat tons of litchis again this summer. I expected he’d still keep me company for another winter.
Death is sudden and unexpected for sure. It’s why it’s important to cherish each instant with the beings that are important to us. Or have empathy for others even when we don’t know them. There’s no proof there’s an afterlife, and this ‘existence’ is the only thing we can build upon.
I was very hesitant to bury He’Ke in the backyard in order to keep him close to me. Although it’s a dream place here, there’s not enough strong memories, plus there’s no guarantee I’ll stay here for years to come. Instead, I decided to bury him at the same exact spot where I found him. The meaning is more powerful. Two trees serve as tombstones, which meant his body will still play a role in the ecosystem, maybe allow a bed of flowers to bloom.
All thing considered, He’Ke had a really good run. He lived five years when he was supposed to die early during his babyhood. His name stands for Helen Keller because he was partially blind and almost completely deaf, but strong-willed. I did my absolute best to offer him the best quality of life and treated him with equal rights. If humans do have a soul, then I can confirm that animals have a soul too. And if ‘soul’ simply means being ‘important’, than that’s how I see all good-hearten living beings. To be honest, I prefer the presence of animals over most humans. There’s something pure about certain species, and chipmunks are truly fascinating. I shared every bit of space I had with him without keeping him in a cage, it helped to create a solid bond between us. And I’m sure He’Ke has always been grateful for this.
Rest in Peace, dear friend. Won’t be easy to live in complete solitude again.
June 2012 – June 2017