I was driving, one evening, to a Lodge meeting—a usual occurrence this year that I'm Grand Chaplain for the Masons in Ontario. To my great surprise, I began crying, just, out of the blue. I wasn't listening to sad music; the girls had headed off to school after having been home for at least two weeks during the holidays and it was a good thing that they were back at school; Karen was back VPing at Winchester Public School.
Sure, there had been some rough patches with some sick parishioners, but I tend not to over emote. Instead, I try to be present and listen. Nope. Between great wracking sobs and tear drops—dropping all over my white bow tie and formal tails tuxedo (one of the requirements as Grand Chaplain)—I tried to figure out where this emotion was coming from.
And what came to me was Maggie. Even now ,writing her nam,e I'm feeling a little misty. Maggie was my dog and we had to euthanize her on December 21. And that's hard, right? But I've been through this before. God has blessed me with a great zootopia of pet companions in my life:
- Banjo: the mean poodle that loved my mom and no one else - who was her "first born."
- Lady Bee:the tabby cat who made it all the way to Calgary but then ran away the first night we were there.
- Samantha: the other black poodle that my dad rescued from the train tracks in Pointe Clair - named after the character in Bewitched!
- Muffy: the Cocker Spaniel that loved me so much that even when I went a way to University, and she became my sister's dog. As soon as I came back into the picture, she completely ignored Andrea and fawned over me.
- Beatrice: The first pet Karen and I had. I adopted her from the Kingston Humane Society the first month into my M.Div—she'd just had a litter of kittens—and they told me no one wanted the mother. Well I did. My mom tried to steal her from me, but that's another blog post.
- Simon: the little poodle Mom convinced Karen to take and who was very much a joy in our lives. He had so much patience with Emma when she would steal his food for her play kitchen. He also ran miles and miles through the Trout River Gulch in Newfoundland.
- Gracie: the biggest dog anyone of us have ever had. We adopted her after Simon died and she was white German Shepherd who was so gentle that she would flop over onto her back when she saw a child - but might have killed another dog.
- then Maggie…
We found Maggie on the road towards Oxford Mills, lost, frantic. We tried to locate her owners and figured she had been ditched. Maggie was a "poodle": blonde and feisty and definitely my dog, through and through. Though, she did love Malerie, but that's because we used to pay Mal to walk her and feed her. Nope, Maggie would wait up at night to make sure I got home from meetings. But she was very much her own dog. She might follow me around, but she didn't adore me like Simon did.
Anyway, I was surprised at the very deep sorrow I was feeling. And yes, I was sad that Maggie was gone. But I also think that what I was feeling was all the "life stuff" that Maggie represented. She was the last dog with whom my girls had grown up. Maggie was with me when I was all alone (twice) during my sabbaticals.
Karen and I have "agreed" that she would be our last pet—we are not kid-free, so what adventures can the two of us get into? But I have had an animal companion since I was born. And I guess that the overly quiet house and the loss of routine (walks, feedings, playing) has hit me, along with the fact that all my girls are away seemingly all the time. I have been experiencing, I guess, some very profound losses and changes in my life that I haven't really "dealt" with …yet.
Being a person of faith doesn't make one immune to the feelings and reality of loss. What I have gleaned in the days since my "blubber session" in the '06 Hyundai is that I think I am in a time of "letting go" rather than of "holding on to."
And this is scary.
But I as I reflect and discern, I have to wait on God to find out what needs letting go, because once one has let go, then truly one is unencumbered and free. I wonder what God needs me to be free for, as I let go of more "things."
R.I.P. Maggie. You were a good girl.