Posted in Parenting/Running/Pets

LEASH-LESS LOVE!

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So this is where I start blogging.  My first post will be about my ultimate running partner – Misty – a lab/chow mix with a tender heart, who kept my pace strong, and my mind focused.

Misty. In simply typing her name the feelings evoked deep within my core outpour. Ever since I was young, I’ve pined for the feeling of safety. The warmth and security a robin feels when it buries its head under its wing to stave off the bitter cold. I crave comfort and abhor fear. I was once told (yes, by a therapist), that my personal tendency is to place myself in situations that are not safe, because I yearn to conquer this panic. Moving to DC on my own, running at night, living in India where I traveled alone and sleeping on the beach in Mexico by myself (with several mosquitos). These were all experiences I chose to help strengthen my being, or so I thought. Then one cold day in January 1994, a jet-black puppy with ears as soft as satin, spirited eyes and a gentle soul found me and pledged to keep me safe. It was a non-verbal promise, but as soon as we became family, a sense of relief, happiness and belonging ensued.

Now it was me and Misty living in DC running at night, together. In a sense, she carried me through adulthood and gave me the courage to try things that were new, daring, and at times not too bright. She’d wait for me in the car at night if I had to run to the store, she’d linger for hours while I worked double shifts and was ready to jump in the car at 3:00 am so we could find a parking space across the street at “the far lot” and we’d run back together. She caught my tears, listened when I had to talk and sat next to me while I went for a drive, ears flapping in the wind.

I’ve been on a lot of walks and runs in my life. Some with friends who you share your latest triumphs or queries; others with family where you talk about growing up, religion, or maybe even politics – if you’re careful. Being outside with someone – or alone, whether walking or running is a time when a bond is formed.  After running with Misty, my brain always thought more clearly, and my soul felt more alive.  She ran with me, ahead of me, next to me, jumped in Rock Creek and powered up the rocks back on the trail to finish our run. I was always leery to let her run off-leash thinking she’d decide to really catch the squirrel this time — once I even thought I’d lost her, but on that snowy day in Maryland, she was out running with deer in a field as happy as could be.  She saw me, and came right back.  The elation she showed when flying down a hill, herding another dog during a game of fetch, or jumping in the water, was priceless. Had I restricted her, she would have missed out on all of those moments dogs need to thrive and be alive.

Then, when Misty was 17, it came the time when I had to let her off of her leash, literally and figuratively.  My running partner needed to rest.  As mournful as it was, it was the right thing to do.  Our children were five, seven, and eight-years old then, and were very attached to her, so we went in the backyard, and spent a few minutes with Misty before we took her to the vet.  Here’s what I said:

Misty, you graced each of our lives in different ways…you gave Dexter (7) empathy and compassion…he always said, “excuse me Misty”, helped if you needed something, cleared paths for you, ran with you on the tennis courts, road his bike along side you and laughed when he chased you. You gave Cora (8) the sister she always wanted and showed her how to be resilient even if your brother (Abe the cat) scratched you. You taught her how to walk away with grace when someone is unkind and to love unconditionally. You gave Zavier (5) the companion he needed when Cora and Dexter went off to school and showed him how to wait patiently for mama while she busied around the house. You taught him the importance of taking care of family by sitting nicely while you received your fluids and listened to him while he talked non-stop. You showed papa how you just need to wait until I’m out the door to truly believe I’m “ready to go”, and you showed all of us loyalty, for you have always been devoted to our family. You held steadfast as my best friend for 17 years. I never needed another. I often chose to stay home with you instead of going out when an invitation arrived and then Justin joined us because he was happy staying with us…and then we made a family.  Mist, I’ll be okay, I’ll miss the security you always brought me and the love you delicately poured out to me, but mostly I’ll miss my girl, my dear confidant, my Mist.

Running, being a wife and mother, and writing, these things encompass who I am.  Now I will attempt to make my small contribution to the world, just as Misty brought me strength to be brave.

“A time to mourn…and a time for peace”

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