I am in Jeddah, having arrived two nights ago. In a later post I will describe my first impressions of the city and my new life here, but for now I need to grieve. The myriad of emotions that I have been through over the past 50 hours is indescribable. I am not feeling strong enough yet to go into detail about what happened, but my beloved friend and faithful companion of seven years, Hattie, passed away before she was released from Customs at the airport. It is an unspeakable tragedy and one for which I will feel immeasurable guilt and sadness for a long time to come. While the circumstances of her death were beyond my control, it is very hard to convince myself that it was not ultimately my fault. I know rationally that I shouldn’t think that, but unexpected loss often brings immense guilt to loved ones. I am no exception.
My new colleagues and friends, without exception, have been supportive and comforting beyond words and have gone well and above the call of duty to help me navigate both the bureaucratic and emotional side of this tragedy. Without their help I would be lost entirely, and I never would have been able to achieve any sort of closure. Today, in a peaceful corner of the Consulate grounds, with a number of people supporting me, I laid Hattie to rest. I take comfort in the ability to visit her grave and spend time with her over the course of my tour.
I am heartbroken over the loss and particularly the traumatic circumstances of Hattie’s passing, but I know in time I will be able to remember only the wonderful things from my seven years with her. From the first time I met her (in the car when my family picked me up from the airport during a college break, when she bounded onto my lap and gave me her patented expectant look and then promptly rolled over for a belly rub), to the countless nights she kept my feet warm, to her endless hours of ‘exercise’ that both fascinated and irritated people, to the past year of living in DC and taking many very hot road trips, we made a great team. She was quirky and eccentric, but maybe that’s why we bonded so well.
Here’s to Hattie.