Thursday, 8 July 2010

Farewell, dear Reve.

Marie Reve Moine, nee Van Renterghem
(28th August 1954 - 2nd July 2010)

(Photo credits: Marianne. From the Facebook Group, "In Memory of Reve Moine").

This tribute should have come out sooner, but it was too painful for me to articulate how I felt about my loss.

My buddy, Reve, was killed on Friday, 2nd July 2010.

I was on my way to the SPCA on Saturday morning after attending a charity confectionary sale at Assunta Hospital when Nicole called me on the phone, asking me to pull over and remain calm.

Was it something to do with the dogs? Did something happen at the shelter?

"Reve was murdered yesterday." Nicole's voice sounded distant and filled with confusion and sorrow.

NO! I had yelled. It couldn't be. Reve couldn't be dead. There must have been some mistake. Perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity. Maybe she was injured but alive somewhere. Perhaps it was a malicious prank.

I drove to the shelter to find everyone in grief. I was amazed, however, that the sun could go on shining, the dogs could go on barking and the cats could go on eating and purring. Don't they understand that Reve was gone? Reve is gone! Reve is no longer with us. I will never be able to hear her friendly voice again, or feel her arm around my shoulders. Nobody had any answers or theories as to what had happened. It took me time to come to terms with her death, but when I did, I was full of rage. I was not able to express how I felt, except that I wanted to track down her killer(s) and avenge Reve's death.

I wish I could say that there wasn't a person who would want to harm Reve. Reve was such a wonderful, giving, charming, selfless person that she changed lives permanently, and always for the better. But Reve was also a passionate, eccentric, outspoken and excitable person -- things always happened to her. She was always ready to give out her contact information to those she thought had genuine queries about missing, injured or newly-adopted animals. This, to some people of questionable mental health, was taken to be a sign of romantic interest, and Reve was stalked on at least one occasion.

Also, Reve had such a strong sense of justice and moral conviction that there were people who did not like her for disrupting the status quo. Reve had the moral courage to question what she knew to be wrong -- the surrender and abandonment of animals that should have been neutered and released instead, abuse and cruelty against any vulnerable living thing, the destruction of the environment -- all these incensed and distressed Reve, and she did not keep quiet about it. At least on one occasion, Reve was involved in angry altercations when she intervened in domestic violence or animal cruelty cases. I only wish that more people would be as brave and just as Reve, even if not as foolhardy.

Reve was a dedicated volunteer and tireless animal welfare campaigner. We first met at the SPCA shelter in 1996 or 1997. I was a student then, and would take the town bus to the SPCA after classes to spend an hour or two helping out with the animal care work. I walked through the SPCA gates one day to find a lady of European descent in the Hospital (which was then in the front section of the shelter, where the Charity Shop is now) handfeeding the puppies mushy food. I asked if I could help her, and she made another bowl of mushy food so we could feed the puppies together. The rest, as they say, is history.

Reve and I shared more than just a love of animals and a commitment to volunteering. We were buddies. We spent many happy hours chatting and working together in the shelter in the evenings after everyone else had left. She was a good listener and I could confide in her on many issues. Reve liked everything about me that my parents didn't: My hairstyle, my clothes, my Battletank, my tattoos, my vegetarianism and my crazy ideas which were almost always illegal.

I look back on our 14 years of friendship, and I realise that I am blessed that I have many fond memories of the time Reve and I spent together. I remember the time she rescued me from the boxer who went berserk and clamped his jaws on my right shoulder. Reve pried the dog's jaws open in spite of the obvious danger, and the dog bit her instead, causing her palm and fingers to bleed. Somehow we managed to hide the incident from the vets to prevent the dog from being put down.

I remember the conversations we had over cups of coffee, and the way Reve would exclaim "Ooooh!" over anything she particularly liked. She "ooohed" over all the pins, car stickers and other merchandise from animal welfare organisations that I brought home for her from all my conferences and visits to other animal shelters. Most of my small gifts to her still grace the windows and dashboard of her Suzuki Jimny.

I remember how she once requested a small Malaysian flag to wave on our National Day, and I had been greatly amused by the fact that a Belgian wanted to fly the Malaysian flag, when so many Malaysian citizens didn't. I obliged her with two little flags, one for her car and one for her kitchen. Why kitchen? I don't know, but that's Reve for you.

I remember the birthdays and Christmases we celebrated at the shelter, and the treats and presents we would bring the animals on special occasions. I remember how Reve and I would dash about, soaked to the skin, covering the cages of the animals with plastic or reinforced canvas sheeting each time it rained heavily.

I remember how Reve would wait for me and talk to me from outside the bathroom door at the shelter each time I needed to shower and change after dark, ever since I told her I felt spooked after the shelter haunting incident.

I remember how Reve and I formed an Underground Railroad of sorts for unwanted animals, and would smuggle out and bring home particularly sick and vulnerable animals without the approval or authority of the vets. I remember how we would rejoice and hug each other each time one of our foster animals were adopted. "It was meant to be, my dear, it was meant to be," Reve would tell me. "The little one, she came to you for a reason." (That was how Covert Twin ended up with Chocky -- due to Reve's intervention)

(Reve holding up Gypsy @ Estel, who I had fostered until she was strong and healthy enough to be adopted by my friends, VJ and Sara.)

I remember how Reve would kiss each animal goodnight after we returned them to their enclosures and got ready to lock up for the night. "Goodnight, my darlings", Reve would say. "I pray tomorrow gonna be your lucky day". We started calling it the "Lucky Day Prayer". Sometimes it worked. Sometimes all the animals needed was a little help: a bath, a grooming session, a relocation from the Pounds or Sick Bay to the Front Area, where they would be more likely to catch the attention of visitors.

I remember how I had laughed when she had described an Oriental Whip Snake as a 'banana snake' and I remember our final big adventure, when Reve and I climbed up the roof of the Cattery to attempt to rescue a black kitten who was stuck on a beam above Kennel G. In the end, it was Muniandy who successfully retrieved the kitten from the beam, but it was Reve who managed to get the kitten adopted the very next day. Only Reve could have pulled it off. She really was a marketing whiz.

Reve was as kind and generous to people as she was to animals. I remember Reve's concern for visitors who had to be consoled after having to give up badly injured strays they found on the road, knowing that the suffering animal would have to be put down. I remember how Reve would go out of her way to help a friend. I remember the late night phone calls I received from Reve to seek legal advice and assistance for friends in trouble.

One of the best things about Reve was that she was always very demonstrative of her love and affection to those around her, human or animal. We knew she loved us, and we weren't self-conscious about letting her know we love her too. I am glad that I had the opportunity to tell Reve, when she was still alive, how much I love her and that I am grateful and proud to have her as one of my best friends.

I remember how Reve would praise and thank bashful young volunteers who helped out at the shelter as part of their school community service programmes. I remember how Reve would throw birthday parties for our general workers (most of whom have never even celebrated their birthdays at home) and how Kak Mazni cried when Reve surprised her with a cake and a bouquet of flowers on her birthday.

Reve may be outspoken and opinionated, but she and I had never had a quarrel. We had an unspoken system of 'taking over' from each other. If she were engaged in a verbal conflict with visitors who wished to surrender their pets, I merely told her that I would 'take over from there' because I would not be constrained by language and cultural barriers. If I faced difficulties soliciting donations during fundraisers, Reve would step in and take over from me, without pointing out how sorely inadequate I am at sales and marketing work. We complemented each other, and it never occurred to me that one day I wouldn't have Reve to fall back on.

I remember the medication Reve had to take for depression and anxiety, but how she never let it stop her from volunteering at the shelter daily and helping those who are less fortunate than she is. I remember the last few months I spent with Reve, both when she was going through a low period and when she seemed her cheerful upbeat self again.

(Reve as my parents remember her: Smiling, dancing and singing along to disco hits during the SPCA Charity Gala.)

It is tragic that such a remarkable and beautiful person as Reve was taken from us so violently and so soon. There isn't a day that I do not think of Reve, and wonder if there will ever be a closure to the mystery of her death. My days are dark without her. I am tired of being told to be strong; tired of being told that time heals all wounds. My strength could not bring Reve back. Time could not undo the grave injustice done to a woman who has done so much good and saved so many animal lives.

Reve, I hope the investigation into your untimely demise is given the importance it deserves. I hope there will be justice for you and peace of mind for your family and friends.

Reve, you will always be remembered and honoured by your friends and all the lives you have touched. You gave new meaning to the words 'dedication' and 'friendship'. The legacy you left is that of love. I know you are not alone now, for you must have been greeted at the Rainbow Bridge by hundreds, if not thousands, of animals who learned of love for the first time from you. Go towards the light now, Reve, for the angels are waiting to receive one of their own.

~ Rest In Peace, dearest Reve. ~

(For those who know Reve personally, the funeral service will take place at St John's Church, KL, on Monday, 12th July 2010, at 10.00am)


mamasita said...

Hai..I'm so sorry and extremely sad to hear of your friend Reve's deepest condolences to all those she loved and who love her.

May they find the murderers quickly..
p.s. I didn't read the papers..but what did the police say so far..

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you, Datin Mamasita. The police has classified it as sudden death, no foul play. But too many things don't add up, and I am as in the dark as anyone. No leads at all, no suspects, nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry.

She sounded like a wonderful lady, a wonderful friend. You will miss her.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Jami. Reve was such a wonderful person. I really miss her. It really is the heart that feels the pain.

Welsh Amethyst said...

I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Please let me know if there's anything I can do.


Unknown said...

Am so sorry. It's painful that such a dear friend is lost forever.Rest in peace, dear Reve. God bless your kind heart.

mNadeshiko said...

i'm so sorry.. she sounds like a very good person :)

rest in peace Reve

Unknown said...

A lot of large humanity is compressed into a small space here and it has runneth over into deeds and words ...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your kind words and messages of condolence, dear Welshie, Keats, Ili and Zaharan. I miss Reve very much. The best thing we can do in Reve's memory is to love one another and love our animals. That would make her very happy.

joanne blueheron said...

An honourable tribute to your friend Reve. Her light will continue to shine in the lessons she taught you all. My condolences.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

I'm at a loss for words. Come, let me give you a hug. MMMWWWAAAAHHHHHH!!!! Rest in peace, dear Reve. Wherever you are.

Emily said...

Dear E,

I am very sadden to read about Reve; my heart goes out to you on loosing a dear dear friend, partner in crime, comrade and fellow animal lover... Just be thankful that you had been a great friend to her and the two of you had shared great moments in both your lives while she was alive. Cherish these memories of her.

Please convey my condolences to her family.

Hope they catch the murderer soon.

Stormy Heart said...

My heartfelt condolences, hon. Reve sounds like an amazing woman, and I can only imagine how sorely she will be missed by her human and animal friends.

I pray for your heart's healing, and that the perpetrators of this act are brought to justice swiftly.

Ellen Whyte said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. I never met Reve but through your tribute I feel as though I've met her.

A Big Kid with an Old Soul... said...

Beautifully written mate :'( It's hard not to cry ! No amount of words is enough to sum up your 14 yrs of friendship with Reve. She's a huge part of SPCA and now it's just a big empty space. Part of me wish she will always be around, to watch over the animals in the shelter and shower them with love and comfort as she always does, while the other half feels she's happier now and safer with Angels now.. She has done so much for all of us, may she rest in peace :(

louis said...


My deepest sympathy on your unimaginable loss and pain.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Joanne, thank you for stopping by. Yes, Reve's light will continue to shine down on us from above.

Dear Kitties-In-Sydney, thank you. A fish-breath kiss is just what I needed.

Thank you, Emily, Reve may have been my partner-in-crime but I have no doubt she is in Heaven now. As for where I will go one day, I am not so sure. I led Reve into all sorts of trouble, as I recall it.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Colleen, thank you very much for coming by. Reve was an amazing woman. I think she will continue to inspire others even in death.

Dear Ellen, thank you for your kind words. Reve was more than just an 'animal-lover' -- she loved people, nature and most of all, LIFE. She still had so much vitality, passion and enthusiasm in her.

Dear Nic, it has been exactly a week since Reve's demise. She died this hour last Fri, remember? And I am so afraid that our friends will one day forget her, so afraid that we will forget how important it is to track down her killer and seek justice for Reve so that her soul may finally rest in peace.

Dear Louis, thank you for your kind words. Unimaginable loss is correct. We could come to terms with her death more easily if it were, say, a case of terminal illness. But not this. We didn't have a chance to say goodbye. Not this. Reve didn't deserve such a violent end.

Ade said...

I am so sorry to hear about your dear friend, Reve. Wish I knew her..

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your kind words, dear Adeline. There was an obit for Reve in the Star today. She looked stunning in her younger days, in the photo her family used. But she will always be my dear Reve, and she will always be stunning and beautiful to me.

pak wan said...

saw the obit in star today and googling it lead me to your blog..

i've never known her but from your tribute, she seemed to be a wonderful lady.. RIP.. hope she rest happily with the wonderful creatures she saved...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your visit, Ojah. Reve was a wonderful person. No one can ever replace her.

lupie said...

I am all teary now.

I remember seeing her at SPCA and have always wanted to get to know her better. She makes "little" me feels at home whenever I am there.

Rest Well Reve.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Lupie. Reve was always good at making people feel at home. Volunteers never remember the secretaries or vets or staff, but they always remember Reve The Big-Hearted Volunteer. Thank you for remembering her. Please keep her memory alive.

Serina said...

I am so sorry. I firmly believe that she will always ALWAYS be with you and the animals. This is a beautiful tribute. I'm sure she's touched and smiling down on you. Take care...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Serina, thank you so much for coming by. I don't want Reve to be forgotten. I certainly hope she is smiling, because maybe then I can let go of my anger a little.

buttercup said...

I am sorry to know we've lost such a great person. Reve has been such a wonderful woman and human.
Reve may have left us too soon, but in the little time she had on earth, she's touched so many lives and made all the difference.

"You won the battle Reve. Rest in Peace".