Category Archives: animal loss

Warsaw in Winter

Warsaw in Winter

Traveling to Poland for Christmas was a decision I made for a few distinct reasons. One, it was a postmortem readjustment to my father’s death. I had been to Poland before, both times in the spring, in May but I wanted to have the winter light in my photos on this trip. I wanted to feel the deathly cold winter of Poland, like my father did.

I went to Poland to continue my documentary on my father, a survivor of eight Nazi forced labor camps. Because my father passed away on Christmas, I wanted to awaken in his country, on the third anniversary of his death, to help me deal with a grief too deep for tears while simultaneously feeling a near-umbilical attachment to this country I love, a country with a past filled with too much sadness to ever understand.

© hannah kozak

I arrived on Christmas Eve. After a Polish man kindly helped me figure out how to buy a bus ticket from the ticket booth (I’m not a fan of cabs) I sat on my bus seat, staring out of the windows for a familiar site. When I exited at Warsaw University, I had the surprise of seeing purple and white holiday decorations– instead of the customary red and green in Los Angeles– leading into Old Town, where I like to stay. The location opening on Castle Square overlooked the Vistula River and granted a stunning view of Old Town. I heard the bell chimes of the Royal Castle, which was rebuilt only thirty years ago after being destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. In my small, quiet hotel room, I have a desk to write at as well as two bay windows to look out of where I photographed the view of the Vistula River and the changing light, throughout the day and night.

© hannah kozak

Krakowskie Przedmiescie & Plac Pilsudskiego, Warsaw

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View of Vistula River in Old Town
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR

© hannah kozak

Old Town – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR

I was in so much anguish on this third trip to Poland. My cat Jackson died suddenly three days after I arrived in Warsaw and I was alone in my hotel room. “No! No! No!” I screamed, in part because I was in shock and in part because I thought I could undue it all. I didn’t want to leave my hotel room yet I also needed the freezing cold air of Warsaw to help me breathe as I avoided making eye contact with strangers. I felt so useless to Jackson that all I could do was chant. I had left him at the vet and that was the last time I saw him. I was processing regret at leaving my companion with a specialist that I didn’t know but who said he would heal my little friend. My pain was profoundly humbling. The only thing I could come up with to self soothe was mantra so I played it nightly.

The state of grief continued as I traveled through Poland, seeing and experiencing Poland, in that emotional state. Something about the death of Jackson helped me get in touch with my father’s tremendous losses. Grief is grief and it colors everything.

© hannah kozak

Jackson – 3 days before he passed.

Jackson brought me infinite joy. I loved the sound of his paws hitting the hard wood floors in the morning as he and his brother ran to the kitchen, eager for breakfast. He used to plead with me to let him go outside and only liked being hugged on the futon in the television room. He’s gone but the memories of him will stay with me like a faded photograph.

@ hannah kozak

Michael & Jackson – 1 Nov 2011

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M & J – 17 Nov 2011

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M & J – 16 April 2012

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Michael and Jackson – 22 May 2012

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Jackson & Michael – 4 Jan 2013

I experienced grief and joy simultaneously at retracing my father’s footsteps through war torn Poland as I mourned the loss of my friend and didn’t sleep well for eight nights.

Prior to World War II, Warsaw was the leading center of secular Jewish culture in Eastern Europe. At one time, only New York had a larger Jewish population. I could imagine the diverse vitality of Jewish life here. From Warsaw’s turbulent history to the beauty of the rebuilt city, I was inspired. From the hot bowls of soup served with fresh baguettes to the sound of the language I don’t understand but resonate with, to the architecture of Gothic buildings made of brick and to cathedrals made of stone and Romanesque architecture and the kindness from strangers I am repeatedly impressed with, Poland has a piece of my tired and hurting heart.

On a side note, I was able to put the Fuji XT1 to use. This is a photographer’s camera and one of many cool features, it is weather resistant, which helped a lot in the cold of Poland. It’s responsive and I’m impressed with this mirrorless camera. There was no giant learning curve, it’s as intuitive as my Nikon FM from back in the 1980’s. No more lugging around DSLR’s.

© hannah kozak

Old Town, Warsaw
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

@ hannah kozak

My favorite restaurant for soup and bread.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

@ hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

 © hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

I love getting around Poland via buses & trains.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Dusk in Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Directly outside Old Town in Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

 © hannah kozak

Fantastic walking guides in Warsaw, Poland.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Children in Old Town; Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F 2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF16-55 mm
F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Self Portrait en route to Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Old Town – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Warsaw, Poland.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

@ hannah kozak

Self Portrait at my favorite place to stay in Warsaw: Dom Literatury.
Fuji XT 1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR

© hannah kozak

Old City – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph.
Henryk Sienkiewicz

Warsaw in Winter

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Clarence the grey, brave cub is running with the wind.

My  intuitive healer and friend Brauna came to my house yesterday after being out of town for a few weeks. She walked in, took one look at Clarence and said he was tired, he couldn’t do it anymore. She had been receiving messages about him for awhile. It’s not that I was in denial. Or maybe I was. Ignoring portentous signs is easier than reality.  I was doing everything I thought would help and to save my grey, brave cub.  Between the western vet and the holistic vet, I was giving Clarence medicine for constipation and anti-biotics for elevated white blood cells and Anemia.  I had been giving Clarence ocean plasma for six days. In front of Brauna, he literally cried out when I gave him his final shot.  No more. I put my head down on the counter and cried that the injection made him cry out. He cried, then she cried and I cried. These photos were taken of him last night and this morning, before he left us.

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Yesterday Brauna drove us to the first vet to have an enema administered since it had been days for Clarence.  We were told Clarence needed a scan because something else was wrong. She said to call Roger Valentine; the holistic vet. Across Topanga Canyon we went, this time with Clarence in my arms as Brauna drove.  He was calm and moved very little. It was a relief to not be driving alone with Clarence as my emotions were heavy. Brauna was familiar with me crashing my car once before when I drive with upset. She wasn’t taking any chances. She understands my fragility.

Roger inserted a large needle into Clarence’s swollen belly. Nothing. Flipping him over, he cried out in pain. The unwanted fluid seeped out which would enable Roger to find out the problem immediately instead of having to wait for a scan. Roger was shocked at how much Clarence’s belly had protruded in a week. He had rarely seen it progress this quickly.

Clarence had a tumor, his liver was mottled and had grown in size. It’s no wonder he was so hungry, thirsty and having troubles going to the bathroom.  My eyes filled with tears as I listened to him tell me it’s time to let him go. “A tumor”? I kept repeating in my mind. “I thought he’d have another year”. It wasn’t sinking in fast enough. “The fluid will come back tomorrow” Roger said.  He rubbed a little marijuana paste on my jupiter finger to rub on Clarence’s gums so he would settle back home. He wasn’t sure Clarence would make the night. Brauna and I both knew he would.

Clarence had more turkey breast and cold filtered water back at home.  We opened up two more cans of canned tuna and salmon. We stayed up with him for hours until it was time to try to sleep. It was a fitful night with no rest for either of us. All the useless thoughts going through my mind of if only I had known he had a tumor two weeks ago and how sorry I was that the last shot caused him to cry out. It’s as if Clarence went along for two weeks with all I was doing out of love and care. He knew I was trying to help him. He knew I wasn’t ready for him to leave me. When Brauna walked through our front door, he was relieved to see her and he cried “no more”.

She texted me in the middle of the night “Ask Michael Jackson to step back into the light when it’s time and sweep Clarence up in his arms”.  She came back in the morning after we each had an hour of sleep. More tuna, salmon and unquenchable thirst. My boy cub wasn’t getting nutrition because the cancerous tumor was shutting down his functions.

In the front door at seven thirty in the morning before she went to work, Victoria brought him ahi tuna, which he tore to shreds. She lit a special candle with a painting of a horse, bull, sheep, lion bear and tiger to guide his way. She’s known him since the day he came home sixteen years, six months ago. Her goodbye to him was filled with anguish as my sister knocked at the front door with hugs, love and support.

I walked slowly down the hallway to my bedroom with Clarence in my arms as if walking slower would give me just a moment longer with him. Brauna was right beside me as I walked, taking on my suffering.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”. I began to pray in my bedroom with Clarence in my arms to which Brauna joined in. I have been saying St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer every night for years. I didn’t know she said it daily. Together we continued “where there is darkness, light” and “for it is in giving that we receive, for it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life”

Roger, Brauna and I were in my bedroom where we layed him in front of the fireplace on the pink towel I used to wrap him in for vet visits with the burning animal candle on the mantle. One injection into his leg to anesthesize him. His green eyes were wide open, his heart rate slowing down and I couldn’t contain my sadness and grief.

“Run with the wind my brave cub” I told him gently as I kissed him over and over on his face near his left ear. Brauna held the space for me, for him and for us. Her presence soothed me and Clarence felt that. He knows we love each other. I held onto Clarence, with my left hand, I held onto her foot with my right hand as she held him with her right hand and we were all connected.  She’s done this transition work for so many people and cherished pets. Her compassion, empathy and assurance of him going to a place where he was no longer in pain helped me to allow him his transition. Roger okayed the final shot with me. “It’s the last shot Clarence ” I promised him with a whisper into his ear. As the final needle was placed in Clarence, I felt searing pain throughout every part of me. Clarence’s breath was even slower. Roger left the three of us in the space alone. When he returned Brauna, sitting on the floor, looked up at Roger and said “he still has a heart beat”. Once again Roger repeats “I have rarely seen this”. Clarence wasn’t fully letting go.”I’ll be okay, Clarence”. I assured him. “Let go”.  I know he sensed my difficulty. He finally let go. I finally let go.

Brauna stayed and helped me remove his self-contained village, his litter box, food and medicines. Even The Lion King mat I bought for him over ten years ago was thrown out. His energy was everywhere in the house. “It is important to let the material reminders go” she gently reminded me.

Where I used to hear his familiar cry asking for running water in the bathroom or more au juice from the wet mushy canned tuna, there is not a peep. He loved Fatburger’s hamburger with cheese medium rare and sour cream.What I wouldn’t give to find a trail of cat litter that he used to leave behind only in the last year. I’ve never felt alone in this home when he was here. His presence was powerful. He held the space with love.

Clarence was a love machine. He never tired of the love I gave him and that he gave back.  He shined it right back to me.The silence in my house is shattering but I am feeling a sense of relief knowing my grey, brave cub isn’t putting up a gutsy show anymore. My grief is in stages where it overwhelms me.

Brauna said “Clarence is helping me. I’m trying to be more human. I spent a lifetime trying to be spiritual.” I suffered from a childhood of lack of safety. There wasn’t a childhood of constant loving. She continued “This soul of Clarence 24/7 did nothing but love and accept you. He was a constant source of loving. To lose that right now, which is all we have is right now, is big.” Brauna reminded me we have to go through this because steps of grief are how you can climb in peaks of joy.  Clarence said to me “I’m here to love you. Let’s have at it.” He was my greatest teacher. Clarence didn’t judge. He let me be who I am which is sometimes a bottomless pit of need and love.

I keep looking for him. I feel like he’s going to pop his head around the corner and ask for a Party Mix tuna treat. Brauna said he’s resting with the angels before he goes on his next adventure. Now I understand why I gave him the grey, brave cub endearment the day I met him sixteen years ago. We’ll never forget a moment of unbelievable clarity- “I’m done.”


Clarence the grey, brave cub and Quinton Ocean Plasma

I took my cat Clarence to the vet last week because he was leaving a trail of urine outside his litter box. The first vet ran blood tests and xrays that showed an infection, anemia, constipation and an enlarged heart.  We started anti-biotics for the infection, which hopefully will raise the anemic values. Clarence likes the taste of the medication for constipation, which is helpful.

I  emailed an old friend who loves animals to ask if she knew anyone extraordinary.  She recommended Roger Valentine, a holistic vet in Santa Monica.

I drove Clarence out to Roger on Monday. With the traffic backed up on PCH, it took thirty minutes to make a left onto PCH from Topanga Canyon. He stayed curled in my arms and didn’t make a sound. I was a little flustered by the time we actually arrived because I felt so badly for Clarence. Roger immediately poured me a large glass of water and then injected 20 cc’s of Quinton plasma and one cc of B-12 into Clarence.  I watched and began to feel relief, as Clarence perked up on the spot.

Quinton plasma was developed one hundred ten years ago in Europe by Rene Quinton, a national science hero. He was a research scientist, explorer, inventor, physiologist, author and humanitarian.Though it’s suggested for athletes or anyone who wants to boost their minerals, Roger uses it on animals.

Quinton returns the system to cellular homeostasis. It’s pure ocean plasma that is enriched by the vortex plankton bloom environment. It’s not just seawater. It’s not plankton. It’s living fluid produced by dense fields of zoo plankton as they eat smaller phyto-plankton.It’s harvested  from the same plankton bloom using the same protocol Quinton did in 1897. Sea water can bring about balance to soil that is depleted.  Quinton saw that after hurricanes and tidal waves. The facility where this is produced is in Spain. Valentine explained it balances out internal fluids and helps intestinal problems. It clears out toxins, helps energy levels, helps sleep, balances the digestive system while support the adrenals and boosting the immune system. Like human blood plasma it contains 78 minerals. Three times the mineral concentration of human blood.

Clarence had kidney problems five years ago and I was told to feed him low protein. Roger says cats need a lot of protein and that the low protein dry food vet #1 had Clarence on for years is not good. I ran out to get Avo. Clarence wouldn’t eat it. He won’t eat any dry food. He’s developed a food allergy. We’ll tackle that next. In the meantime yesterday a friend came to teach me how to continue to give the injections of Quinton ocean plasma into Clarence’s neck. I was having some difficulty sticking an 18 point needle in his neck.Today I was able to do it. I don’t think it’s time for Clarence to go yet. These alternative methods seem to be giving him another breath of life.

If you try this product make sure that it’s the original Quinton produced in Spain. It’s raw and cold filtered not heated. All other available seawaters are pasteurized or irradiated and harvested from coastal locations. They are vastly inferior products and are already commoditized in Europe . You cannot achieve the clinical results with heat sterilized or irradiated seawater that you can with cold filtered seawater from plankton blooms.

Clarence is now greeting friends at the front door with a hello instead of laying curled and lifeless on his favorite chair. I’m ordering some for myself as well. I could use a shot.

http://www.drrogervalentine.com/

http://www.originalquinton.com/

Here’s Clarence a year ago & last two years and here he is last week at his water bowl before I got him to Dr. Valentine.

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