This is a Love Story. This is a Life Story.
My first DH never had a pet so he was mystified by my devotion to my Airedale, Big El. And when an industry colleague of his died trying to get his dog off train tracks, he had some unsympathetic things to say. The notion of loving a dog, really loving, was completely alien to him. Then we got a little Rott puppy – and I watched as that baby snatched DH’s heart and kept it clutched in his paws until the day he left this plane. It is almost always thus. It was thus for Christopher Chong.
As you all know, Christopher Chong is the Creative Director for the vaunted House of Amouage. What you might not know is, Christopher is also a dog-parent. This story is about his baby girl, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, whose pedigree name was Midnight Flower. But to Christopher, she was Georgie. And she was the love of his life. Towards the end of August 2012, her heart started failing and at that, Christopher’s heart broke, too. We spent the next month talking and preparing for the inevitable. So much love for his girl – and so much pain at the thought of losing her. Non-animal people probably thought he was nuts. But he did everything he could, hoping and working for the best but knowing that his ultimate responsibility was to make those last weeks the best he could for her. And he did, giving her her favorite Harrods doggy donuts and showering her with all the love and care in their world. She passed out of that world on 6October, devastating an exhausted Christopher.
But Love is a funny thing. What has the power to devastate you also has the power to lift your soul higher than it’s ever been. Christopher’s grief slowly transmuted into a sense of joy at having had the privilege of loving his best friend. And he determined to celebrate that love. He created 3 candles to mark the passages through grief to emerge, once again, into the light of happiness. They are lovely, albeit in a quiet way. Not overblown, bombastic scent throwers, these candles are very intimately scented and are designed to bring a feeling of calm and peace to those experiencing heartache. And the packaging is so gorgeous it’s almost impossible to open them – almost.
Normally I don’t cite much from press releases but this, copied from the official Amouage release, perfectly describes Christopher’s goal in designing these candles:
‘Hope’, the first of many emotions in the healing process, is restored with a floral heart of Rose, Violet and Ylang Ylang piercing through strong, spicy top notes of Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom and Cumin. Calming Incense, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Oakmoss create serenity in the base.
Opening with sharp Grapefruit, Orange and Aldehyde, the top notes of ‘Love’ recede to reveal a deepened heart of Rose and Patchouli. A comforting sensation of warmth is enveloped by the Vanilla, Musk and Cistus base.
‘Happy’ resonates with a spicy and woody blend that invokes vivid memories. Wonderfully warm top notes of Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg, together with a heart of Rose, Heliotrope, Plum and Almond, narrate the fondest memories of a loved one’s life. The base radiates the final stage of the healing process with long-lasting, fresh notes of Pine, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Vanilla.
Life really does go on, as we know. And Christopher determined that his loss should translate into something positive. So
50 percent of profits made from the Midnight Flower Collection will be donated to an organization which partners guide dogs with the visually impaired and people with disabilities. Chong is passionate about contributing to people in need for them to experience the same unbreakable bond he shared with Georgie.
I can’t think of a better way to honor a beloved. The candles are not yet available here in the US, alas. Right now you can get them at Amouage in London, as well as the Sultanate of Oman and other shops in the Middle East. I’m hoping we get them as soon as possible – they really are lovely. As lovely as the love between Christopher and Georgie – and all of us who share our hearts with our animal companions.
Oh! The other beautiful thing about loving??? … there is always room in your heart to love again. And again. I don’t think anybody – but especially animals – wants those left behind to suffer in grief. The ‘guilt’ a lot of us experience, when another soul presents itself to love and be loved, is of our own making and animals usually just stomp all over that and snatch our hearts anew. And that’s as it should be. Christopher and Bracken (Georgie’s butterscotch partner)welcomed a psychotic little puppy into their lives – Harper. Harper was everything wonderfully annoying about a puppy, which is persackly what Christopher and Bracken needed. Nothing like a howling puppy at 5am to snap you out of the doldrums and into a swearing fit!!. Now, 6 months later, everybody’s settled down to a nice life together. And Georgie is up there smiling, sniffing her candles – and other dogs’ butts because that’s what dogs do! Especially in heaven. Can you imagine the dog butts in heaven? If I were a dog I would want them to smell just like these candles.
What a wonderful tribute to Georgie to have sales proceeds go to an organization that connects service dogs with those in need. I have the priviledge of knowing someone who is now in the process of training a wonderful golden retriever for service and also knowing an incredible wonderful woman who is blind and lives a very rich life in part because of the service and independence her beloved guide dogs have given her. When I talked to my friend who is training a service dog about the sadness of letting her go after so intense and dedicated a process, she told me that you will always grieve a loved pet, but this way she will have joy in the letting go knowing that another person’s life will be so enriched. Hey, just wish those candles were being sold here in the U.S., I’ll be first in line to buy, when they are. Kudos to Christopher and Amouage.
This is such an amazingly beautiful story. I’ve been involved with animal rescue for about 20 years now. My home is full of cats and a dog. I’ve lost a number of senior cats over the past couple of years and felt my heart break with each loss. I’ve learned that no furry member of your family can ever be replaced but I believe humans at their best do have an infinite capacity to love. There are so many animals that are desperate for loving homes and if taken in will help heal a broken heart over time. I’ll be tracking down these candles once they make it to the US…both to support Amouage, which is an amazing perfume house, and the efforts of the guide dog organization that sales of the candles are supporting.
What a beautiful love story – dogs sniffing candles in heaven….that brought a smile to my face!
Beautifully written – nostalgic . bittersweet and ultimately funny . As only you could do my friend !
I wish there were a like button!
My beloved cat was killed by a moron driving to fast in a tiny tiny street. My heart cries every time I think about her. I feel deeply for Mr. Chong indeed. I understand how painful to lose your beloved friend is.
My big ole butterscotch tabby just jumped onto my lap and is now purring madly… He has no idea how hard it is to manage a laptop and him at the same time. Just like he has no idea how completely he and his sister own my heart. Congrats to Mr. Chong for acknowledging and coping with his grief in such a beautiful and uplifting way.
As ever, you make me misty eyed. . .then make me laugh! Oh, how I have loved all my pets. They are family, and I treasure them while each is here. When my George, a 22 yo cat, died, my heart shattered. I wondered why I choose any pet I’m pretty sure will not outlast me. . .then I met my Miss Cleo, and it was love. Again. I still laugh about the Bal a Versailles review here on the ‘Posse about cat butt, because I often awaken to her cuddled up to me, tail thwappin’ my face 😀 Silly.
Thanks for sharing this. . .and I’ll keep a look out for these candles. I hope they wander ‘Stateside, soon. Be well.
Aw man now I’m all teary! My kitties are 10 and 6 years old, and I dread that day. I try not to think about it too much. My brother and SIL lost one of their cats to kidney failure almost a year ago. The candles sound like a beautiful tribute to Georgie, and I’d like to smell them if they ever make it to the US.
spend your time with them in joy, Jennifer! Here’s wishing for long, healthy lives for your kitties – and for you!!!!! My condolences to your brother and SiL – losing any loved one is hard!
Aw… this is so lovely and sweet. I still miss my baby girl, Brandy, who was like my ‘sister’ all through junior high and high school. We’d take naps together on the sofa when I got home after school. I’d buy these candles in an instant. Thanks for sharing this! xoxo
Our ‘babies’ really do stay with us, don’t they? Let’s go to Oman and get summa those candles, Joe! xoxoxo to you and Brandy’s memory. xoxoxoA
What a sweet story. I can’t think of a better reason for creating a fragrance than to honor a loved one, whether that “one” was human or animal. Having owned pets all my life, I’ve been through this many times, most recently this past summer when I lost both my 14-1/2-year-old Shetland Sheepdog and my 16-year-old cat. My other Sheltie was bereft, wondering where his friends had gone. Now a 10-month-old puppy and two one-year-old cat sisters have joined the family to gladden everyone’s hearts. When animals become part of our lives, we know we have signed that contract that says, “You will have your heart broken one day.” But we sign it over and over, because life would be so much less without these friends.
I agree! And I’m sorry for your double loss. And so glad you opened your heart and home to new loves!
Thank you, Musette. Sometimes, when I take Fender for his daily walk, I get impatient that he has to sniff every bush and blade of grass. Your post reminds me to stop and smell the flowers too and enjoy my best friend for who he really is.
Azar, I was thinking about your comment a few minutes ago while walking The Baby 🙂 and being really put out because I was out in the rain, etc….he stopped and looked at me …and I stopped long enough to really LOOK at him. Such total love in his eyes. I felt like a fool for wasting my time with him in impatience. thanks for the reminder!
I am glad you enjoyed it, Cheryl. It was a pleasure to write. xoxoA
WAAAAHHH!!! Like a FREAKING baby! Gosh darn it Musette, can’t even type
What a nice inspiration for creating a scented candle series, and certainly an emotional experience that many, many people can relate with. I have only ever had one pet, before I found out I was allergic to cats and dogs, and that was a wonderful white cat named Punkie. She lived for fourteen years. I have a framed 8 x 10 photograph of her in my kitchen so I can “see” her every day. Thanks for sharing this story, Ms. Musette.
What a wonderful memory of 14 wonderful years!
My darling beagle of 16 years died 2 and a half weeks ago and I miss him terribly. What a beautiful story, it made me cry and then smile. Thank you for this post. Now I must get some more tissues.
Oh, CC..I’m so sorry to hear this. Sending you hugs and warm wishes, hon. xoxoxoA
So sorry to hear about your little friend, CC.
Another amazing cry/laugh/deep insight post from Musette. Thank you!
you are most kindly welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Michelle!
Tearing up at this story. I have loved and lost many pets… Dog butts, puppy breath, cat fur coming in from the cold–a world of things to love. Warm wishes to C. Chong! Love, love, only love.
it’s tough to lose them, isn’t it? But there’s a Universe of Love there! So glad you have had that love, Elizabeth! xoxoxoA
I’ve got an old and sick pup too. She’s actually not having a very good week at the moment. I’m hoping it’s just a few bad days and she’ll perk up soon. Your post got me all teary eyed. Need more Kleenex.
oh, poodle! I’m so sorry! Wishing for a quick perk-up, too!!!! xoxoxoA
Thank you Musette. My 15 year old favorite cat Diamond died Monday, and I can so relate. Animals are so amazing. She had been very, very sick, but I will still never forget taking her to the vet. She was so weak at that point she just clung against me (in her younger days she would have gone ballistic), I petted her a while, and when I went to leave, I will never, ever forget the look in her eyes—all that love and trust and faith in you that an animal has. I am thankful she is no longer in pain..she had cancer and it was very bad at the end, but right now I miss her like crazy. She was so loving with people, dogs, cats…I miss her sleeping with my little dog (how many cats will try to groom a poodle lol??l) I so idenitify with Christopher Chong and think it’s wonderful Amouage is donating 50% to connect pets and the elderly. They bring such love and joy.
So sorry for your loss, Sherri. I lost my 14yr old Maine Coon in February and I still miss him. We went to meet a friend’s cat last night – they are moving and looking for a new home for him – so I may soon have another fur baby to love. Hard to go to a regular size kitty when you’re used to the big guys but this one is black, sleek and gorgeous so I maybe I won’t be reminded of my other one.
I enjoyed this post, Musette, sad/happy though it may be. I’m sure the candles are gorgeous.
My heart goes out to both of you. xoxoxoxoA (and A, I know you’ll give that kitty a great life, not matter how unBig he is! 😀
Oh, Sherri, I am so very, very sorry to hear this! I saw your FB post about her a while back — she was so beautiful! Will be praying for you and sending you a big hug.
Sherri, so sorry to hear about your little Diamond. It is such a double edged sword isnt it? You know they need to be let go (my Willow also had cancer) but you want them to stay because you know how much they will be missed and how painful it will be. Our vet came to the house and I held her to the end – I didnt want to do it but I had to do it. I’m thinking of you and sending you good thoughts.
I knew I liked Christopher Chong for more reasons than perfume! Animals give us so much unconditionally, make us laugh, weasel their way into our hearts…and there is always room for one more.
My lovely sister is raising a Guide Dog puppy and I dread the day she has to give him back!
I’m sure that’s going to be hard, Jackie, but you’ll take solace knowing he’s going to make someone’s life ever so much better! I have to resist the urge to smooch the hell out of every Service dog I see, they are all just so…Grand!
Me, too! But I always rein myself in just in time by reminding myself that they’re “working”!
What a lovely post. I felt the same way when my sweet girl Maggi died last year, and I think about her every day. There’s something very pure and fine about the love between pet and person – it’s not marred by any complicated human baggage.
I hope these candles make it to the U.S. some time soon!
I’m so sorry to hear about Maggi, Lisa. I lost my Georgie 3 years ago and there are days when it feels like yesterday. Occasionally he’ll come down and visit via his son (in general they look nothing alike but every now and then ‘George’ will show up, albeit for a brief moment…it’s sort of spooky, in a nice way 😀
Such an astute observation about the love between animal and human being differerent from between humans because of the emotional baggage. I’ve found that when we grieve for our furry ones, it is a much “purer” grief if that makes sense. I think that its because of that very lack of baggage – we simply love them and they us, with no agendas or emotional “games’ that so often become a part of human relationships.
Oh I would have loved these 2 weeks ago – would love them now still – when we had to have our dear little cat Willow put to sleep. She was 12 and such huge part of my life; I miss her antics and her little face looking at me inches away from mine, willing me to wake up and feed her. I have been so incredibly sad since she went – I’ve lost other cats before, but this time has been particularly hard. I have family in London and am going to ask them to send me these wonderful candles. Thanks to Christopher for coming up with this idea and thank you Musette for telling us about them…
Oh, darling. My sincere condolences. It’s really rough when they leave us, isn’t it? I think you will really enjoy these candles – like I said, the scents are very intimate, which is helpful in times of grief and stress – at least for me.
Musette, only you could tell a story like this and end up talking about dog butts! Very touching and sweet – I must try these candles next time I visit my local shop that carries Amouage.
I am totally on board with the critter love – I can’t imagine my life without them, and I can’t imagine a person so cold-hearted that they can’t love an animal. I don’t think people like that can truly love other people either, there is something wrong with them, like people who claim to hate music – all music. Unimaginable.
they might have to ask Oman to send them – they are not yet distributing them here in the US. But I think you would really like them!
Thank you for sharing this. We are getting close to the end with one of our fur kids and it is nice to know there are people who don’t think I am nuts to sob for hours over a cat. Too bad they aren’t available in the U.S. I don’t know how much Amouage candles would help with my grief but I would be willing to make the experiment (and I know Mika would expect such extravagance in her honor).
Oh, Liz – I’m so sorry. Smooch Mika a LOT for me. xoxxoA
Oh, Musette, this is a wonderful, albeit at times bittersweet story. So glad Mr. Chong has been able to bring so many good things from his journey. Thanks for sharing!
it was a privilege to write this, especially as Amouage is donating to help others in need. xoxoA
This was the most wonderful post. What a beautiful love story – and one all of us who adore our pets could connect with. The beginning made me tearful; the ending made me laugh. (I guess heaven for dogs would be other dog butts to sniff!) I also especially love that donations from the sale of the candles are going to a worthy cause. My only regret is that they’re not available in the US yet – I can’t wait to try them!
they really are lovely! I hope they’re available here, soon, too! xoxoA
I’m glad you enjoyed it.