May 10, 2019

Skincare : Sunscreen Round-up

A little over a year ago, I made it a point to incorporate sunscreen into my routine. Singapore was (and probably still am) undergoing an intense heatwave with a disgusting amount of sunlight. 

The first thing that alerted me to start looking into sunscreen was that I had noted -- with alarming frequency -- that my face almost always felt tight and warm in the evenings after coming home from work. My cleansing or skincare routine had not changed - yet day after day my skin continued to feel heated and uncomfortably tight, especially after warm days. 

The second, is hyperpigmentation. With my hormonal acne, and monthly skin breakouts from still being a fertile female who ovulates, the scars remain on my face long after the actual pimple or cyst is gone. 

So began my experience with sunscreen:

I will let you know, that I have found the minimum SPF I require for my skin is at least SPF50. There's some debate on the market regarding whether there is even such a thing as SPF50, or 60, 70, etc, but through my experience I have found that SPF50 is the bare minimum for me to prevent sunburn, and by extension, sun damage.

To put it simply, what I've learnt is that everyone is born with a different amount of melanin (darker skin, fair skin, etc) - meaning the less melanin you have, the higher the SPF needed to protect it. This is on a case-by-case basis, of course, but that is the general observation with sun care. 

Let's cut to the chase, with my favourites - the top three, if you will. 

It is to no one's surprise, that my top three would be brands hailing from South Korea; perhaps now better known as the capital of all things skin care, where the famous 10-step skin routine and glass skin originated from. All three are also SPF50. 

My number one - holy grail item even, would be the Missha All Around Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel. I kid you not, this item is now so integral to my daily routine that I have two bottles stocked up on my shelf, just in case it ever sells out online or locally (which happens regularly since this product seems to be quite popular). 

While it does title itself as Sun Gel, it is in fact a light cream texture. Despite this, the product itself sinks effortlessly into the skin, cooling the skin at the same time with its ingredients of glacial water and Thanaka extract; a paste commonly seen on the faces of Myanmar ladies to cool and protect, whilst providing anti-fungal protection to the skin. It doesn't leave my skin excessively dewy, or dry, and is a great base for my make up to follow. 

I love this product. Fairly moisturising; doesn't leave any white cast and has not caused any irritation bumps (whiteheads) on my face in the many months I've used it. It is also the most cost-effective of the lot, at a mere $19 for 50ml. 

Coming in a strong second, is the famous Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence - an award-winner (Glowpick, Korea) that I tried on a whim when I was in desperate need of a sunscreen in Auckland. To my knowledge, my sister is also using this and we both have nothing but love for it.

Again,  it is marketed as a cream texture, but due to it being a water-based product, there's no white cast as it's worked into the skin. It does feel heavy but doesn't feel uncomfortably greasy. It is also developed for sensitive skin -- as with most Klairs products -- notable ingredients such as Tocopherol, an antioxidant which protects the skin barrier from free radicals, Sea Buckthorn oil for moisture, Panthenol to soothe irritation and finally, Niacinamide to brighten skin tone. 

For about $32 per 80ml, this is a great sunscreen for most, since it's very risk-free for most skin types. I would prefer if it was just a touch less greasy but it's perfect for my sun protection in colder, dryer climates. 

The third, is the Laneige Light Sun Fluid - ironically, the first bottle I got when I decided to venture into sunscreens. It was a purchase from the airport during a trip, and came in a pack of two, with one bottle still currently going strong on despite my valiant attempts to empty it.

In a tiny, adorable yellow bottle, this stuff goes a long way with its emulsion-type texture. Similar to calamine lotion, the runny texture is almost immediately absorbed into the skin with very little resistance. Laneige also used cooling mint water, and oil-balancing powder to further protect the skin barrier along with sun protection, but you'd do well to pat or massage this as quickly as possible as it does settle into the skin with a matte, powder finish. 

While it is claimed to be waterproof and sweat resistant, I have found that this does not hold truth and wipes off quite easily - on grumpy skin days, this sunscreen does give me whiteheads, even after cleansing. It is also pricier on the scale of $36 for 50ml. Nonetheless, this is a product I still use since it's an excellent sunscreen (as long as I don't touch my face) and does protect my skin from environmental stressors.

The remaining four sunscreens are narrowed down from sun care products I've purchased over the past six months; have been used daily to weekly for the same amount of time and range from SPF30 to 50. 

Another South Korean product, the Etude House Soon Jung Mild Defence Sun Cream comes with SPF49, which is quite a strange number to see on sun protection products. Nonetheless, it is a watery cream formula which does take a while to settle into the skin during application. While it doesn't feel sticky after, it does leave a sheen on the skin.

The Soon Jung line from Etude House is developed specifically for sensitive skin and formulated with mostly plant-based (natural) ingredients and the good stuff, like Panthenoside to strengthen the skin barrier. More importantly, the range is also very pH balanced to prevent irritation. All these factors are present in this sunscreen, and my skin is very happy to continue using this sunscreen. I will say, that the wait time for this product to be absorbed, as well as the dewy shine left behind can be unfavourable, but that's easily rectified as I go through my make up routine. 

The Soon Jung range also comes in two sizes for most of their products, so first-timers can always purchase the smaller size at 25ml for $11.90, or $19.90 for 50ml. 

Another contender from Missha, is their All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Milk.

While the very milky, emulsion-like formula leaves absolutely no shine behind; in fact mattifying the skin with its addition of porous powder, and does not cause me any breakouts - it does leave my skin too dry to apply make up after. I usually apply my most moisturising primer or foundation to combat this, which makes my skin relatively uncomfortable in Singapore's humidity. I still use this product on days where make up is not needed, since the product vanishes into the skin hassle-free, and does not require much else. 

It also comes in two sizes, at $33 for 70ml, or $26 for 40ml. I will add, that I go through a bottle faster with this product, since it sometimes requires more product - both due to its efficacy and the texture itself.

Perhaps the most well-known of the brands here, is the Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer™ Physical Daily Defense at SPF30. I got this baby during a Sephora sale, and I was very excited to try it after hearing a lot about Drunk Elephant in general, since it's considered to be quite niche in terms of skincare. 

Boasting ingredients such as astaxanthin, grape juice and sunflower shoot extract, all antioxidants to protect the skin from free radicals, and free from any animal product, silicones, chemical screens, fragrances/dyes or alcohols, this sunscreen has a lot going for it. While it does not break me out - the texture itself is by far, the thickest formula in all the sunscreens I have tried. A faint pink cream, it is a challenge to work into the skin and does leave a white cast and stickiness no matter how long I spend blending it into my skin. 

At $48 for 90ml, this product doesn't require much per use so each tube will go a long way. Drunk Elephant is also the more ethical of all the products, being cruelty free and a strong supporter of the IEF International Elephant Foundation. 

The last in the list, while not actually last in place, is the final step in my sun protection routine - the Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist, at SPF50. Supergoop! is a constant and renowned name in the sunscreen industry, so it's not surprising that their products would be in this humble post. 

Also a product purchased during a Sephora sale, this mist is a constant companion in my travel bag and serves as a top-up to my applied sunscreen of choice. A clear spray, it works as both a setting spray for make up as well as a sunscreen top up. Supposedly, it's supposed to be refreshing as well, but since the formula is quite heavy for a mist, refreshing was not my first impression. What I do use it for, is to maintain my UV protection through the day, and that it does. It also smells herbal, with its addition of rosemary, spearmint and peppermint oils, which is always nice in any face mist. 

I usually purchase the travel-friendly 30ml bottle for $18, but they also sell for $42 at 100ml.

So there's my chosen sunscreens used in the past year (I would say 14-15 months, but I don't keep track). 

The result, after daily and frequent use, is that the mentioned tightness and radiating heat I felt almost every evening is gone. My skin was comfortable, and felt comfortable. Cleansing is more tedious now, since I have to ensure every bit of product -- whether sunscreen or make up -- is removed thoroughly.

The second issue - hyperpigmentation, both hormonal and post-inflammatory have also  gradually disappeared. Of course, this is also attributed to my daily skincare routine, but the fact of the matter is that applying sunscreen before going outside prevents existing scars from discolouring further, and also reduces melanin overdrive by shielding my skin against UV rays. 

Listen, you're not on this post because you think i'm knowledgeable enough to wax poetic about the differences between mineral or chemical sunscreen, or how zinc may or may not cause cancer (not enough data, it's also found in many diaper creams and calamine lotion), or even the arguments for holistic replacements, such as coconut oil (it actually causes more light focus onto the skin because of refraction). 

I'm here to round up some of my favourites, after using them on my own skin personally. It might work for some, it might not - everyone's skin is different, but sun protection is important for more than simply cosmetic beauty, skin damage and skin cancer are facts. 

My honest experience is here for you to use as you like, but its important to remember you have to take ownership of your own skincare. That is what takes time and patience - figuring out what works for it. 

*No products were sponsored and all opinions are my own.* 

May 02, 2019

Skincare : Fresh Singapore

I just want to admit that I might have a problem. 

Just open my wallet up, and you'll see piles upon piles of membership cards; glossy to matte or minimalist to colourful, and even digital versions of memberships stored away for me to sift through, retrieve at any beauty or skincare store I enter for discounts or samples or simply points to reimburse. 

With all these memberships, sometimes comes an invitation to events or launches of new products or services. Most of which I attend to learn new make up tips, or to have first looks at new items before their launch to the public. 

One of the recent launches I was invited to, was from Fresh.

An afternoon in the aptly-named Rose Room of Takashimaya amongst the company of other invitees, surrounded by the scent of rose petals, our skin was treated to some seriously luxurious sensations with a demonstration by the managing director of Fresh, between curated sweet treats to compliment their beauty products. We even had some sweet bites in between sampling the skin treats, which is a great way to keep everyone awake in any two-hour launch.

As we began the session, we were brought through some of the best and well-known products from Fresh. Most of which I'm familiar with, since my first purchase with Fresh back in Hong Kong way, way back in 2013 - a humble purchase of their Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment - which I still have (I know it's not hygienic but I cannot bring myself to chuck it). 

We were walked through a complete face ritual, from cleansing to lip treatments, with both new or existing products.  

I will go into further detail as well as discuss some of my favourites from the existing products in the Fresh collection later on this post, since I want to delve straight into the reason for the invite and launch; which is their brand new mask. 

The Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask 

Oh, this mask. I'm obsessed with masking, which would not be surprising since I have started masking almost everyday for over a year now - so this invite was accepted with zero hesitance if it meant I got first looks. 

Encapsulated in their trademark frosted pink glass jar, was their newest baby. 

Opening the sizeable jar, you are faced with a lid marking out two numerical steps. These steps are also followed for its use - the first being the translucent gel mask, the second being the heavier, cream mask. 

The key purpose of the Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask is hydration. 

Featuring two separate containers, each mask has a different purpose towards this goal. 

The clear gel mask serves to immediately cool down the skin, preparing the skin for hydration by first soothing it. Damascus (Damask) rose extract from the freshest, dewiest roses plucked from the farms of Morocco, and a touch of hyaluronic acid follow up by providing the first base of moisture as well as enhance the texture of the skin, plumping while replenishing the skin barrier (think sallow, tired skin from pollution or those long, red-eye flights). 

Once the gel mask has been adequately tapped (lightly) into the skin - it's followed up by the second mask; a silky cream with advanced, time-release liquid patches and evening primrose oils to completely lock in hydration to the skin. 

As I tried this product, my first impression was of its scent. A delightful, intense wave of roses -- not an artificial, floral mimicry of roses, but a soft, pleasant scent that's undoubtedly of plush, ripe rose petals that doesn't overwhelm.

The moisturising benefits of this mask is certain. Each side of the two different masks compliment each other; a gel to soothe and create the first level of deep hydration, with a water cream to drive even more hydration whilst locking it all in without fuss or hours of waiting under a mask or a machine in a spa. I felt this personally, when I was walked through the steps of using this, and particularly enjoyed the cooling, soothing and immediate effects of plumping experienced during my quick sampling of it. 

What I will say, is this mask requires a little more time to use since it has two different steps - the gel side required me to take some time to gently tap it into the skin for absorption, and the cream requires some time to really massage it into the skin to ensure maximum usage of both products. Of course, as all sleeping masks, it doesn't require any rinsing or washing so the benefits will continue to protect the skin through the night, since the efficacy of this replaces the need for a night cream after it use.  

The water cream of this product reminds me of the Tatcha water cream's texture; mildly rich when it's first used, and after some time massaging it into the skin, the stickiness melts away and is all locked away into the skin. 

With only a mere dab of it needed at a time (of course, more can be used with the level of dehydration), I can see this product being on many shelves.

As I mentioned before, the gel side of this mask was my favourite - and it reminded me of an existing product from Fresh. Another one of their best-selling products, the Fresh Rose Mask. This rosy blend of beautifully soothing cucumber, aloe vera and rose water, red algae (Porphyridium cruentum) and green tea, I have purchased before (repeatedly) and am a big fan of, so I have no problem seeing myself purchase its now duo-purpose sibling once my existing jar depletes.  

This is a great starter if you have never tried a mask from Fresh. 

The next of their bestsellers, and another one of my (and my mother's) personal favourites, is their Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner - an award winner in many aspects - it's an elevated toner for the skin with a triple kill blend of rose fruit extract, rosewater and rose oil, followed up with the essential hyaluronic acid and Angelica leaf extract - all these ingredients leave behind skin that's wiped clean of seen and unseen impurities, soothing, refreshing and nourishing it from first use. 

If you find my claims incredulous, just ask for a sample of it. Or believe my mother, who loves this toner (and its accompanying face mist for travels). 

Having spoken about my first forray into Fresh through their Sugar Lip Treatments, it would be a shame and a sham for me to not show you their two lovely lip products - the Sugar Wonder Drops and the Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

The Sugar wonder drops are a type of lip primer and exfoliator, a blend of sugar and fruit extracts, with AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and hibiscus flower extract to tingle and very mildly exfoliate the very thin skin of lips, bringing out a new, refined lip texture whilst smoothing and plumping it every so gently. I will say, that while these drops smell divine, I would not swallow them - I accidentally tasted some while I was massaging it into my lips and it was not great. 

The Sugar Rose Lip Treatment doesn't need much introduction - again in a frosty pink tube, this mildly tinted lip balm provides immediate moisture (lasting up to six hours), protects your lips with a mild SPF and gives it a lovely, natural finish of a versatile rose red. I heavily recommend this if you ever struggle with chapped or constantly peeling lips from travelling or those many hours stifled in a room of office air-conditioning. 

The session I had with Fresh, was not just for product testing. Their managing director, Cleo (Clio? Cleo?) also taught us a new method of combining two of their products for a deeper, more effective cleansing ritual. 

For this - you need two items; namely their Soy Face Cleanser with the Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask

I have always been terrified of using clay masks because every time I do, my sensitive skin breaks out in white heads from the harshness or dryness from them. Never would I have thought to combine a clay mask - let alone one as gentle as the Umbrian Clay Mask with an even gentler skin cleanser to use as a face cleanser suitable even for daily use. 

Testing the combination out gave my skin a brand new experience, as well as thoroughly cleansed it; in the end, my skin tone was evidently brighter and well-prepped for the rest of the skincare regime. I'm still a little iffy about using a clay mask on the regular, but combining both might just be a new solution to old problems. 

If I walked away with anything from the event, its the words that good skin begins with fresh skin

I want that for my skin - it's been a revised, more realistic goal for me since the beginning of my hormonal acne when I turned 28. Not glass skin, or flawlessly perfect; just fresh, clean skin. Try out a Fresh product, any one, it doesn't even need to be their new mask. Any of their products will serve your skin a purpose. 

I'm however, partial to their rose products. 

Life isn't a bed of roses, but there's no harm trying to rosy up the skin. 

*I was invited to the launch, no products were sponsored and all opinions are my own.* 

Fresh products can be found at:

or any of their outlets around Singapore. 

April 16, 2019

Peter-Pan, Fefe, Feboy, Fatboy, Puppyface, Silly Bean

I've told this story many times, and now when I say it, its with a chasm in my heart. 

When Peter first came into our lives, he was terrified. Abandoned with two other brothers in a dog boarding facility, he was emaciated and abused. He was starving, and not just for food. He didn't know what puppy chow was. He was a pitiful sight, unable to even take his first steps into his new home properly; he crawled on his belly, pissing himself the whole way in. His ears folded tightly against his skull, little stubby tail unseen as he cowered and shook. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I said quietly to him. Our eyes met for the first time, and that night, as he tried to accustom himself to his new home, he howled and cried all night, begging for attention and comfort. It took him a few days to learn that he was safe there, that he could sleep there and be ok. 

It would take us almost six months, before he allowed us to walk him on a leash without startling, or learned to toilet, or even to let us so much as carry him. The vet prescribed him with supplements to help with weight gain and to regain a healthy coat. He had a nasty ear infection that required daily washing and cleaning. He got his shots, his deworming tablets, and got a fever for the first time. Sudden noises terrified him. He ran away on walks multiple times because he got spooked. He ate kibble for the first time instead of cooked rice and leftover mince. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I told him, as he cowered next to his food bowl, unable to eat due to his anxieties. If we so much as moved a toe, off he would bolt from the bowl, burying himself into the back of the crate we got him. 

We named him Fefe, after our first Schnauzer. 

He didn't recognise the name, but he recognised us. 

We got him toys. He didn't know how to play, and ran away from bouncing balls or squeaky plush teddies. 

It took a soft, large football from IKEA to get him to play. It was a stupid thing; larger than his face and yet he ran after it for the first time, tentatively, after realising it wouldn't hurt him -  chased it even as it rolled away from him. For the first time, we saw him run with his stubby tail up in the air. Cheekily, he would bound away from us when we tried to take it from him for more chasing. It was the first time he had presented such joy for anything other than food. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I smiled, saying to him as he sat at my feet, pink tongue lolling out of his mouth in happiness as he waited for me to throw his new, favourite ball. 

We heard him howl for the first time. It was a small sound that got louder and longer. We were all sat in front of the television watching a comedy show which made us all laugh. Our laughter triggered his howling, and we watched, awed, as he threw his head back, howling. We laughed more, and he followed up with more howling. He got up from his spot next to us, and seemed to be excited. He barked, inciting more laughter from us - it seemed to spur him on; almost as if he wanted to be a part of our laughter and howling was his way of doing so.

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I said, laughing as I scratched his head and finally learnt he had a voice. 

We learned that he loved food - as most dogs do - begging at the kitchen whenever my mother was there for a bite of whatever she was cooking or preparing. Sundays he had special meals, some mince pork, potatoes, his favourite canned food. We learnt that he had a dislike for puppies, their nippy mouths always at his magnificent beard; yet he possessed a patience for them, huffing and walking away when their rambunctious nipping was too much to bear and yet refusing to discipline them physically as dogs do. 

He also developed a streak of protecting the home, barking ferociously with his hackles raised at anyone who dared to come near our gates. He was spoilt with vacations away from home, luxuriating in cool, lush bedrooms with me as he snoozed away the afternoon and attempted to chase birds in the evenings during walks. We sometimes found him hunting lizards, insects in the home, only to look ever-so-slightly chagrined when he realised we were watching him the whole time. Shower times were silly events, since he developed a penchant for chasing his bath towels and playing tug of war with us before we relented, surrendering it to him for his chewing satisfaction. 

His coat grew beautifully into a sheen of black and silver, peppered with gold on his eyelashes. It flounced as he trotted along; sometimes it seemed like he was almost prideful, head high and nose in the air as he walked along. 

I left for Perth in 2008, and spent the night before my flight sitting with him on the floor. He snuffled into my hands, yawned as it was past his bedtime. I whispered to him my fears, and asked him if he would miss me. He huffed, eyebrows now grown beautifully and trimmed sharp as his brown-blue eyes bore into mine. 'What a silly question, mama,' he seemed to say with his huff. 

I smiled, and kissed his head - he pawed me in the face, almost knocking my glasses off my face. We sat together for a long time, his eyes occasionally flitting to the large, imposing red luggage in the corner of the house with some type of understanding and trepidation. 

The next day, before I left for the airport, I gave him a final cuddle. I kissed him on the head and he huffed again. He sat, watching, quiet as he ever was when I left the house. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I said to him with a final scratch behind his ears, before I shut the door and swallowed my tears back when I heard him snuffling on the other side. 

From 2008 to 2013, I was home once, maybe twice a year - give and take. Every time my plane landed, my first thought was of my good boy and that pink tongue, those blue brown eyes looking at and for me. 

He didn't disappoint; our boy would be barking at the door, howling for me even before I reached the floor, making an absolute ruckus. He would be leaping at the door, standing on the bench next to it, as if he would open the door himself if he could. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I would say, as my father half-heartedly reprimanded him for the noise. He didn't pay heed, overcome with joy as I reunited with him. He ran around my feet, squealing and begging for cuddles to make up for the lost time we were apart; immediately taking his ball for me and yet refusing to give it to me to continue the game with him. Clink, clink, clink, his collar would go, noisily as he bounced around the home and me. 

Throughout Peter's life, he suffered two tick infestations, one of which gave him tick fever. 

His groomers had to soak him in solution, his skin would be dry and itchy. My boy had to have his beautiful coat shaved completely -- it had grown gloriously through the years -- presented him as a handsome, fine dog so unlike the first time he came to our home. His bedding had to be thrown away and his area fumigated with tick killer. He was confused and sick for the first time, weak and tired from blood loss and handling. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I told him through the screen of my laptop, wiping away my own tears, angry at the distance as he howled pitifully in recognition of my voice. 

He was only neutered at eight years old, along with a thorough ear cleaning and teeth scaling. I had argued with my parents, put my foot down for this decision. We spoke to his vet, who eventually convinced them it was the best decision to extend his life and keep him as healthy as possible. As eight, he was not at risk if he went under - and so became the first time he had ever been put under general anaesthesia. He recovered from it groggy and whining for me the moment he saw me in the clinic, hungry and thirsty, sore from the surgery. He was never particularly good with pain. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I comforted him through the bars of the kennel he was recuperating in. 

In 2016, my boy suddenly could not walk. His lower body sloped to the floor, and his back legs trembled even if he stood; wobbled when he tried to make steps outside the vet's office where we rushed him to immediately that evening. 

It was a double whammy. A bone spur in his spine; Spondylosis, a word we later became familiar with, as well as a devastating zero count in red blood platelets due to a crash in his immunity system. We were all terrified at what this could all mean, for a 13-year-old dog who was all energy and life. For the first time, he had to be hospitalised -- for six nights -- put on steroids, antibiotics, liver supplements, blood taken daily for testing and monitoring. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.'

I mumbled, as we were reunited after his six nights of hell. He whined and buried his muzzle deeper into my chest -- as if it would make the vet disappear if he didn't see her -- he needed one last shot, one last tube of blood to be taken before we arranged for his medication - a whooping bag of it, as well as weekly acupuncture sessions to help with his pain management. For the next seven months, his body would relapse just once. Every month we brought him to the vet for blood tests to track his blood platelets count and to monitor his immune system, as well as a jab into his spine to boost his nerve support.

We started to pile him with soft bedding - all manner of soft things to help him rest. I took more sneaky room naps with him, chewing my nails off as I watched his body every so slow lose its ability to retain the fat he needed to protect his joints and bones. 

Another bone spur would appear, less than a year later. 

Every time, he would come out of the clinic huffing; almost like he was upset at the vet technician for taking his blood. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.'

I would say as I soothed him through his tantrum. 

He made a full recovery from his immunity system's crash, and his blood platelets count was completely stabilised in 2017. Everyone was elated; we had a celebration at home, and he happily chowed down on a cheeseburger, unaware of why we were celebrating but nonetheless enjoying our happiness and the attention we showered on him. 

In 2018, a claw was bleeding. 

On his back paw, a single claw started to split and bleed. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I said, as I inspected it. It seemed to be split right down the middle - an ugly line cracked on his gleaming black claw, separating the digit into two painfully. He licked my hand, and limped occasionally; lifting his foot when he stood for too long. 

We would later amputate the whole toe. Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the vet had said. Remove the toe before the cancer spreads, he will have a fighting chance. 

So we did. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I whispered to him the night he came from surgery. He whined, groggy and confused from his surgery and the effects of anaesthesia. His missing toe was barely noticeable by him -  he was up and walking the next day, back to his usual self in a week. I sat with him all night, putting him to bed only when he was satisfied that he would be safe and nothing else would happen to him whilst slumbering. 

The cancer however, as well as the surgery, had already taken a toll on his body. He started to lose weight. His body became frail, his bones more easily noticed through his gleaming coat, which began to speckle grey and white and no longer shone. His hips lost any semblance of fat or even muscle, their shape terrifying and imposing under the surface of his skin. He didn't seem to notice, just kept on as he was - ate well, slept well even when he struggled to stand and run to us when we came home everyday. 

Sometimes he didn't manage to, since he couldn't hear. 

The following year, he contracted Uveitis. I wasn't with him; infuriatingly overseas on a family trip and so he had to be looked after by friends and staff at the pet hotel. I knew he wanted me with him. Through the photo updates, I saw that he had lost more weight. He slept all day, didn't eat, and didn't walk, my friends and the hotel staff to me worriedly as they brought him for review after review. 

We all feared he would slip away during this time. 

When I finally got home, he was sickly. He was recovering ever so slowly, too slowly, with the prescribed medication and eye drops but all he ever needed was me. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I whispered as I held him to my chest when we reunited, rushing him to the vet the same day.  

He whined for my contact, his eyes muddled with medication. 

My brave boy started walking, and eating the next day. I smiled, and his eyes began to clear up - the brown blue peepers peering back at me as I gave him treats and cheese. He lapped it all up; the food and the attention. Everyone breathed a huge, exasperated sigh of relief - almost like we were upset he was tagging us along. We let our exasperation negate that little voice at the back of our minds; he wasn't alright, he's slowing down. 

With his age as well as the aftermath of his many and varied illnesses, he became slower. He slept more. He started to lose his eyesight, could only hear high pitches or familiar, louder voices calling for him. He lost control of his bowels, and started having digestive issues, so his fur was trimmed and cropped short to help keep him comfortable, as well as keep him clean after his accidents. We had to clean him up often, and he often stood to the side, watching us quietly as we cleaned up after him.

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I would say to him after. Sometimes i said it to him in the shower, scrubbing poop off his legs and his paws as he squirmed. 

Soon after, the end came for my good boy. 


That's what came for him. 

Violent, terrible seizures that removed bits of him with every convulsion. 

He never returned after those seizures. His eyesight was completely gone. He couldn't walk without bumping into walls or furniture. He couldn't even drink water, only recognising the gleam of the steel bowl but not knowing where the water actually was. 

My father, heartbroken with grief, broke the only rule of the house since the day he came into our lives 16 years ago - he was allowed to sleep in my bedroom with me.

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I said as I held him through those three nights, easing him back to me post-seizure, confused and wailing from the blackouts. He slept restlessly, jerked away by his awful seizures, only able to sleep surrounded by my scent in the bedroom he had always snuck into during thunderstorms or when dad wasn't home. I was helpless, tired and heartbroken at how it had to end for him. Nothing about it was fair or right - my boy had been nothing but joy and light to our lives; this wasn't the ending we saw him having. We all thought he would suddenly recover, would live to die another day, peacefully even, without the threat of a brain hiccup seizing him into blackouts. 

The next day, he left quietly, without a single flinch or jerk as the fatal injection administered by his favourite vet. I cradled his head in my hand, kissing him before that happened. I cried into his fur, rubbed his belly, kissed his eyes. His body was still warm, soft black paws curled almost like he was just asleep. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.'

I said, as his heart stopped beating; the vet gently informing us as she removed the syringe emptied of its lethal green liquid. The vet and her technician shed tears quietly in our kitchen, trying in vain to remain professional - they had seen and handled our boy through the years. The vet wiped away her own tears, smiled at us to reassure us that there was no pain - i gave him a sedative, it makes him relaxed but he can still hear us and smell us - she said. It meant nothing to me and my grief. 

Through my tears, I remembered to remove his collar, holding it in my hands as I sat with his cooling body until the crematorium staff arrived to collect him an hour later. My mother, absolutely grieving, pulled out a beautiful pink cloth from her own collection to drape over his body -- it was always his favourite colour -- with cream, pink bunnies and cherry blossom flowers printed all over it. We placed plenty of beautiful pink carnations around him in the casket; a gift from close friends who'd visited him to say their own goodbyes. We put his favourite ball next to him; wanting him to have it in the afterlife. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy.' 

I would say again, as I pressed another kiss to his now cold head; the crematorium staff kindly allowing me and my father say one final, quiet goodbye to our precious boy, before closing the casket and driving away with his body. 

His urn returned to me the next day. A little white ceramic pot, with blue peony flowers around it. A little bag of white ash and bone fragments inside; a tag around it stating his name and the date which he left the world, left us, behind. That was all that i had of him, including a few of his things that I kept for myself and my family to remember him - his pink fleece, a snip of his fur, the spoon we used for his food everyday. 

We would set up a little spot on his balcony for him. Some flowers, saved from his casket. His favourite treats, a candle we would burn at night in the hopes that his spirit would find its way home to us somehow. A ritual to comfort the living when the dead are gone. My parents grieved without my comfort - I locked myself away for days, refusing to see the world or acknowledge it in my pain. I still ache, it still burns, and I still cry. 

I sit in his balcony every night, hand on his urn and now fight back at the tears, at the unfairness and at the pain of it all. 

'It's ok, you're a good boy -'

I whispered through my pain, 

'- you will always be my good boy.' 

2003 - 2019 
Peter Pan