You will never walk alone

19 Jul 2013

If you’ve followed this blog, or even just read the About page, you know I didn’t set out on these XpatAdventures alone.

Oh, no. This path has not been a solitary one.

Even before the first blog post, I shared this road from stepmother in Colorado to tenure-track professor in Idaho, to entrepreneur-supporting, world-traveling expat in Switzerland with a 100-pound canine companion.

At least three different people, not knowing each other and years apart, have claimed he wasn’t really a dog but a human with fur. Lately it’s seemed he was just days from fully formed speech; that’s how clear his communication was.

You can see more about him here.

Mufasa and I have shared our lives for 13 years.

Until this week.

The night after Mufasa died (not the first night, the first night I drank wine and fast forwarded through bad romantic comedies, but the very first night after that) at about 9:30 pm, just as the summer sun was setting, I put on my dog-walking clothes and went for a long, fast hike.

It had been at least a year since Mufasa had been able to go for the kind of walk he loved — up through the park above the house, across the street into the woods, along the dirt logging road south-east of home, down the hill fast to the street and back along the block of houses where tens of dogs pee each day, so lingering to sniff everything.

I took that walk because he would have wanted to and I still could.

And it made me happy.

It made me happy to think that even after he’s gone I can live like he showed me and bring along some of the joy we shared.

Here are a few of the things he taught me. I’m sure they’ll work for you, too:

Go for a hike.

Be amazed… by the trees you’ve seen a thousand times and each stranger who crosses your path.

Relish your food.

Love your people.

Say a hearty “Yes!” to any sentence that begins, “Do you wanna…?” because it’s almost always a treat, a trip in the car, or a walk. Perk up. Say yes. It’ll be good.

Explore.

And most of all: Enjoy. Enjoy it all. Enjoy sounding the alarm. Give chase without care or caution. Make friends of all shapes and sizes. Be your beautiful self.

Here’s the last idea: Even after almost eight years here, I am fighting for my work and residence permit again. Fighting might not be the right word. I’m applying for a one-year renewal and it is frightening. I used to say, “Home is where Mufasa is.” For a moment on my walk I thought, “It would be so much easier to just go back to the United States now,” and I can since Mufasa is gone.

I walked these hills and fields tonight, though, breathed in the muggy night air, and realized I am so happy here, just me, alone. I love this life. I live here. This is not a temporary thing. I have friends and music and rewarding work and opportunity and I love this land, this country, this place. It doesn’t make me any less American, it is all part of this expat adventure. This, every bit of it, is what it’s all about.

I am at peace and know that my big, sweet, lumbering, joyful companion is, too. Rest in peace, funny, gorgeous boy. The world is poorer tonight for losing you. And don’t worry… I might not need guarding any more.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marianne 19 Jul 2013 at 04:22

Beautiful. I love the last line, although I suspect he’s watching over you all the same.

2 Coleen Miller 20 Jul 2013 at 02:47

Here Is To The Majestic Journey You Both Shared!

3 Alesia Davenport 20 Jul 2013 at 04:23

Well I just had a good cry. Just sent you some pix of my old bedpal Mufasa – I hope it helps to know he will be happily greeted in doggie heaven by his best “dog-pat” friend Roxie. Hang in there and STAY OUT OF THE CAVE! Love ya!

4 Mateja 05 Aug 2013 at 13:20

Dear Rebecca,

Only today I saw this :(
I am stunned. No words, just thoughts.
Just silence in my heart and thinking of you!
And sweet big boy Mufasa. The Gentleman!
13 years Mufasa was filling your heart and soul batteries with positive energy that will probably keep you going forever! Soulmate, best friend, perhaps the only “person” or friend who understood you without any words.
Dogs love without “if”. They just do.

Every day dogs leave us is too early, but you know Mufasa gave you all his life. And he was happy to have you in his life. Meant to be. And perhaps because of him you are a different person today, always in a positive way when connected with dogs or any animals.
When I lost my previous dogs, only then I realised how patient and loving they are. When they were gone, I was lost, alone, empty, silently looking at the door when he is coming home finally. And why he forgot to take his collar and his leash with!? And it made me realise that is how dogs feel when waiting for us: a minute, an hour, 5 hours ….for that key sound in the doors, for your hug and your voice, even if just mumbling with yourself . And then they are happy as if they almost lost you …. they were happy as I would be happy to see them on the door again long after they were gone.
Now I am and show him how happy I am after every minute, hour, afternoon we are apart with Ludvik. He learned me to appreciate the tiny little leafs that make a tree, that make a forest, that provides us oxygen to breath and be alive. And he learned me to appreciate the beloved ones every moment of the beautiful life.

I hope you are doing well Rebecca.
Hope to meet you once soon for a doggy talk ;)

Take care
Mateja

5 Shelley 09 Aug 2013 at 01:09

Beautiful, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing, and I think the world is richer for Mufasa’s presence through you and your writing and living! I look forward to seeing what you do next. And next.

6 Bill Johnson 09 Aug 2013 at 04:39

Becky,
Wonderful sentiments, and beautifully written, my condolences on the loss of your Mufasa. We found our pound puppy Holly two years ago at the county animal shelter, and she has become a fixture in our lives. I can’t imagine not having her with us.

Take care

Bill J

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