“Where is the dog?!?”
“DAMMIT! Who left the gate open?”
Spoiler alert, “no one” left the gate open (again) but Beatrice was long gone. Beatrice was the Houdini of hounds and never, ever missed an opportunity to abscond. She knew there was a bigger world beyond her yard and given the chance she took it. Gate open = she gone. No fears, no worries just pure unbridled bliss. I often wondered what she was searching for but I think she was just looking. She had a new vantage point and consequences be damned seemed to be her doggie mantra.
She was my calling card when we arrived in a new neighborhood. Amidst the chaos of moving she would find her moment and take it. New neighbors became new friends and Beatrice eventually trotted back to the safety of home. She knew who her people were and was skilled at finding additional pack members. Her confidence was admirable. I wanted to be like Bea. Last week we said goodbye to our sweet girl and escape artist. Cancer is a horrible disease in any species. We knew we had to let her go and for once she waited until we told her it was time.
As I sat on the laundry room floor saying goodbye and apologizing for the horrible singing, long talks, tirades and tears she endured over her 12 years as my sidekick I realized how thankful I was she chose to wander; she lived a good life. An open gate was a ticket to see a world usually closed off. No leash, no rules, no set path.
Last July an email from my attorney dropped into my inbox. It was a copy of my final divorce decree. I looked at the screen and read, and then reread the words stating my marriage was irretrievably broken. I lived in the safety, security and confines of my marriage for 21 years and suddenly the gate was open. Unlike the confident corgi before me, I froze. I hesitated and did not want to budge. It did not matter who left the gate open or why the gate was left open. It was open. There was no set path, no guide and I was untethered.
Freedom is exhilarating and exhausting. I soon realized why Beatrice passed out when she returned home from her escapades. I have learned much about grief, loss and love as I have timidly exited my gate. We don’t leave things we love because we want to. Sometimes, most times it is dictated by circumstances beyond our control, and control is a poorly fabricated illusion. If and when, where and how the gate is left open is not controllable, but how and when you exit is. A divorce, death, loss of a job or close friendship are all reasons our gates are flung open. We can stay within our walls or venture out. The choice is ours, and though my charm is not as evident and my rear end is not corgi level cute I chose to be like Bea. She knew there was life beyond the yard she loved and never hesitated to seek it out.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien