Last blog post, 7 years later

07 Apr 2012

Seven years ago today, I sat in my office in Shoup Hall at the University of Idaho and wrote my first blog post. The walls were made of cinder block painted off-white. I’d moved from Boulder, Colorado just the previous summer and was thrilled at the prospect of staying in touch via blogs. I was missing Home, and my people.

More miles than anyone should count and at least 36 countries and territories later, here’s the last post for XpatAdventures:

Spring has arrived in Zurich. Birds are chirping everywhere and sun is pouring through the living room windows, making it far warmer inside than out.

Tomorrow I need to remember to close the blinds so it’s cooler for Mufasa. I can’t believe he’s been on this entire journey with me. It’s clear his time is coming to an end – he walks slowly up the path from the door and pants after just a few steps. It’s tough for him to stand and sit, but he still looks at me with a hint of mischief in his eyes and comes to find me when he’s hungry for dinner. He sniffs his way around the neighborhood, eyes glazed over with a greenish shine, his hearing not as sharp as it once was.

In Boulder, when we told him we were getting divorced, my stepson said: “Now we can stop struggling.” and “If Dad gets me, you get the dog.” It’s been 56 dog years since we left Colorado, since I packed him into the back of my silver Nissan Pathfinder and drove away from our entire life.

Mufasa was only six to eight weeks old when we met at the Boulder Humane Society. Sometimes people call dogs from places like that “rescue dogs.” I’m not sure who saved whom.

I didn’t know when we set out that there’d be this much change and isolation for so long. I sought to make a home and family again. Instead I have seen so much of the world, met and connected amazing changemakers & committed souls, and explored terrain (internal & external) rocky & steep.

I stay in touch with friends in Colorado as if it’s been just a few weeks, as if I never left. Their lives there continued and mine didn’t. Andrew Love, a great writer, speedskater, father and friend said it’s kind-of like time dilation in science fiction books. “You drop in all world-weary and tired from your travels and our lives have moved on – we’ve had kids and gotten new jobs and made new friends; people have died – but you haven’t gone through that with us. We pick up where we left off; you’re the same as back then, and we haven’t seen the world with you.”

I want to say every day to the people I love: I wish I could bring you with me and that I could stay with you. There’s this strange pull of Home and a longing to see and do everything, everywhere, all at once.

I wish that I could say after all these years I have figured it out, solved the riddle of Home.

For now, I am savoring these last days with Mufasa – the only one who’s seen it all. For now, Home is where Mufasa is.

He’s not going quietly into this dark night. I don’t blame him.

He has stood on the side of the Matterhorn contemplating chasing herding sheep. (That’s what he’s doing here…)

He’s been to the top of the Jungfrau and taken the car ferry across Lake Como to a five-star hotel in Bellagio, Italy… more than once.

He’s visited the beautiful Munich Christmas market… and didn’t see a thing but scored *lots* of discarded pretzel and bratwurst.

He’s treed a cat on the grounds of a 16th century Tuscan villa and stood poolside victorious. The soundtrack for this next photo should be “We are the Champions;” he is standing proud for all dogs, everywhere.

It’s an amazing 12-year journey we’ve been on together: Here’s the story of how Mufasa came into my life. (Warning: cute puppy photos) Here’s a guest post from him back when we lived in Lugano. Here’s the post from when he had cancer in 2008.

And here’s a tidbit from more recently, December 2011:

I’m on the phone; it’s a business meeting – a call with a PepsiCo executive in Turkey. Mufasa couldn’t stand up again this morning. This is mostly from the phenobarbital, I think, a ghastly medicine they put him to control seizures.

Actually, he stood at first just fine, then tried to climb the stairs to the kitchen for his breakfast and fell, all splayed, on the hard marble steps. I helped him back down (only 1 step) and he slid around at the bottom trying to stand. It took quite a while and an elevator to get him upstairs.

He plunked (literally, it sounded like, “plunk”) down in the middle of the living room floor after he ate. From the middle of the room like that he can see everything that happens on this floor of the apartment. I’ve been reading online about how people know when it’s time to euthanize. They say things like, “When the spark is gone out of their eyes.” Or “When they don’t eat and enjoy things anymore.” My vet at first said, “When he can’t stand up anymore.” He’s recanted that statement.

There was a jar of peanut butter next to me on the couch as I spoke on the phone with that PepsiCo executive. From his middle-of-the-living-room position Mufasa first politely requested then more forcefully demanded I stand up and bring him some. He’s not stupid; it was too easy, really. He’s knows when I’m on calls like that, business calls, important calls. He also knows that if he makes enough noise during such a call I’ll do just about anything to placate him. Also… he really likes peanut butter.

I caved, and he had a couple tablespoons of peanut butter.

This is why the three vets I’ve asked if it’s time to think about euthanizing look at me like I’m crazy. He has difficulty standing some days. He’s having grand mal seizures, sometimes more than once in an afternoon. He still enjoys things, though, thank you very much.

Goodness, he is my dog. We live large and love the ride. “Life is good,” he’d tell you if he could. He tells me every day still in a thousand different ways.

I guess that’s what we’ve learned all these years, on all these expat adventures of ours: we are surrounded by overwhelming beauty; there is joy to be had everywhere.

We are on a long and winding road, the 2 of us. The light is not anywhere near gone out of his eyes. He’s on a new pain med & for the first time in about 8 months tonight he went to his basket of toys in the living room, got one, and brought it to me to play tug of war & fetch. Just when I think the journey with him is over, he keeps going. And so we both move forward… for now together.

Thank you to each of you who’ve cared for and stayed with him while I’ve worked and travelled overseas. He adores you, and you have made so many of the adventures here possible. Thank you for sharing the ride with us.

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You will never walk alone
19 Jul 2013 at 01:46

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bobbi 09 Apr 2012 at 21:16

Here’s to the glorious journeys of Mufasa and you! Onward and upward, go forth and be great!!

2 Rebecca 09 Apr 2012 at 21:35

Thanks Bobbi! Will put the announcement I shared with you as soon as I replace this theme.

3 Andrew 09 Apr 2012 at 23:28

I am wiping away tears reading this, hoping my co-workers won’t notice..

amazing how dogs can anchor our lives- You remember my beloved Satchmo. He was with Jess & I through some incredibly hard times. Then when everything was fine, our jobs sorted out & we were happily married. He just keeled over dead one day. It’s like his duty was done & that amazing doggy soul was needed elsewhere.

Maybe Mufasa has been the grounding engine in your time-dilating spaceship. Who knows. Spaceship Home? Mufasa-ship? Only time will tell.

our hearts are with you in this difficult time.

4 Rebecca 09 Apr 2012 at 23:44

Actually, he’s FINE right now – amazing! I think back to the times after both marriages… times I would not have gotten out of bed but for him. In Idaho, during the hardest part of it, he was still very young and energetic. I would put on my rollerblades and let him run and run until we were both just worn out. He has gotten me through.

The most amazing thing, though, may be all the places HE’S been and how many lives he’s touched. I think 7 countries? What a life!

All the way across the US we drove, too — Idaho to Florida.

I wasn’t sure how it would be to travel with him and the very first night of our road trip, in Montana, he quietly climbed up into the other bed in the hotel room… then I knew it was just the two of us hitting the open road — I had a traveler on my hands! ;-) He is still up for more journeying, I think. Tell Jess thanks for the advice.

5 Lori 09 Apr 2012 at 23:45

Why/what do you mean “…last blog post?” With a story like this Muffy will probably hand around for another 10 years.

6 Rebecca 09 Apr 2012 at 23:49

Hello, Lori! Just the end of this particular Web site/incarnation. Onward to other adventures! I’ll keep you posted via facebook…

7 Ellen Snortland 10 Apr 2012 at 00:06

choked up. can’t comment.

8 Christine 10 Apr 2012 at 00:12

Sad to hear this is the last blog post….have followed your blog for years.

9 Cristina C. 10 Apr 2012 at 00:13

This is beautiful. I teared up. How amazing is it that our truest friends often times are our dogs?! They are wiser than we are, and when we have the courage to understand this and start listening, we learn so much more than we could have ever imagined. Mufasa is one lucky boy. Good luck with yours and Mufasa’s new adventures. Sending you both warmth and light!

10 Rebecca 10 Apr 2012 at 00:43

Thanks, Christine! There will be more… just elsewhere & in another form. Will keep you posted. Thanks. Rebecca

11 Rebecca 10 Apr 2012 at 00:44

Hello, Christina. Thank you for this. Hope all is well with you. Prof. Self!

12 gillian 10 Apr 2012 at 01:08

Mufasa!!!!
Oh what a kind heart, fluffy soul and gorgeous steadfast companion.
I just adore him. Hugs to you both.

Looking forward to your next phase!
xoxo

13 Shelley 10 Apr 2012 at 01:19

Rebecca, you are beautiful, inside and out, and both you and the handsome Mufasa are lucky dogs! Cheers to your gracefully closing one chapter only to obviously open anew many more.

14 Tammy 10 Apr 2012 at 01:32

I feel for you…we just started our adventure by adding Kemah to our family 8 months ago. Our lives are forever changed and I can’t imagine a day without her (ok, maybe a day when plastic items will be safe again in our home ;-) . Good Luck, whatever you decide and I am sure that you will both know when its time. Maybe just not right now…

Love from the US.

15 Donna 10 Apr 2012 at 03:29

So proud to have met you on one of your many adventures! You are helping me more than you know with your words. I will be here to continue as a follower of your next incarnation.

16 Michelle 10 Apr 2012 at 03:36

Rebecca, I know what you are experiencing right now, and my heart goes out to you. Little Miss B and I send lots of healing hugs your way.

17 Shelli 10 Apr 2012 at 03:53

Becky-whom-I-miss-very-much,

I’m typing this – with tears in my eyes! – during a visit to our mutual home, Boulder, from which I packed up and left in my own act of enormous faith almost exactly a year ago. Except that instead of one dog that was the center of my universe being my traveling companion, it was two cats, and while our travels may not have been as extensive, all you have said about the expanding of horizons and hearts has been true for me, too.

May we all find our way home.

All my love,
Shelli

18 jeanine 10 Apr 2012 at 10:43

happy journey to you both. xo

19 Tanya 11 Apr 2012 at 19:18

Rebecca, you have just put into beautiful perspective the many pets who have accompanied me on many of life’s journeys- both in and out of the US! I know the heartache of goodbye to these magnificent companions who love us unconditionally all too well, so I feel with you. Although I never net Mustafa, I feel as if I know him, through you and now, through these great pictures. Happy trails to you both and I hope to see you soon.

20 Wendy Redal 16 Apr 2012 at 01:22

Me, too. Teary-eyed. Not sure if it’s Mufasa I’m already mourning, or the blessed empathy of knowing what it’s like to share a journey through heartache with a dog, or just the richness of knowing you (and him!) through so much, and feeling the poignant pull of emotion for all you have loved, lost and learned. And found. This is one of the best things (among many contenders!) you have written.

21 Wendy Redal 16 Apr 2012 at 01:23

I wonder if the selected archives of this blog – the ones that feature Mufasa especially – could be edited somehow into a book of reflective essays?

22 Ann 16 Apr 2012 at 02:05

Wendy R. pointed me in this direction. I also live in Europe with my dogs – one of which also has epilepsy. May the rest of your time together be wonderful.

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