• International
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Hong Kong (EN)
  • Hong Kong (繁)
  • French
  • China
  • Vietnam

Spring flowers and heavy hearts

Today we buried three more bears – Qiang Sheng (Strong Life), Le Le (Happy) and Chengdu Truth.

All died from liver cancers, all seeing people who loved them – just for a few days – grieving more than words can say. Never before in the eight years of being here have we said goodbye to three bears together – and this week we have been through it twice. Lined up like soldiers, battle lost, the score is now farmers 7 bears 0....and we are almost certain as we continue emergency health checks that more will also not make it through.

Today is known as grave-sweeping day – where people here in China pay homage to their dead. Just before the bear funerals began. our Chinese staff arrived at the garden of peace with beautiful yellow rapeseed flowers, which they gently placed on every grave for our bears, dogs and cats that we’ve loved and lost over the years.

Some of the staff were wearing garlands around their heads, reminding us of kind little elves as they carefully made sure that every grave was decorated with spring flowers of love. They are remarkable – I have no words to express the pride I feel for people who have now spent a whole week working long, hard and exhausting hours, and then weeping for bears they hardly knew, but are grieving for just the same.

On the way back from the funerals, once again we strolled past Jasper’s bear house and there he was sitting at the front of the grassy enclosure just watching, in a way that seemed to say he understood our despair. The vision of him and his healthy, chubby-bottomed friends playing and sleeping as they choose contrasts profoundly with the bears we’ve just buried and gives us hope and strength – and a reason for why we are here. 

comments powered by Disqus