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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Clover

Love for My Lady

Recently my family fostered a senior rescue dog named Lady in the hope of adopting her. She was truly adorable; a big ball of Pomeranian fluff who elicited smiles from everyone we passed on our walks in the park. We adored her, and she reciprocated by doing all she could to please us. Even still, we could tell something wasn’t right. We live in a third floor flat without any easy access to the outdoors; she needed to be on the ground floor to go out. Day after day she would stand by the glass doors overlooking the street below and stare, sometimes even uttering a mournful whimper. She wanted to go out and explore. Our home, though filled with our love for her, just was simply not enough. It felt wrong to force her to stay with us, to fulfill our need for her companionship. After being with us for a month it was clear that we were not the right fit for her. Following much deliberation, we decided not to adopt her. The long drive back to the rescue agency was agonizing. Seeing her sweet expression looking up at me as we traveled was almost too much to bear.

But then, something amazing happened. When we dropped her off at her new home (that was in a house with an enclosed yard), she immediately bonded with the other two male Pomeranians. Most satisfyingly, we watched as she eagerly left us behind to walk confidently through the dog door to the outside and then came back inside again. She didn’t even need any assistance to have it opened for her. When we approached her to say goodbye, she didn’t appear sad and despondent. At last, for the first time in several weeks, she genuinely looked comfortable in her surroundings. She was finally home.

What makes this story so applicable is its resonance with our human to human relationships. In every life there are periods of development and change. Children grow up and leave home, parents nurture and then stand back, spouses allow each other the room to pursue their interests independently. Love, by its very nature, is complicated. Letting go of those we care for can be agonizing and painful. But, in the end, if we want those we love and cherish to be happy and to enjoy fulfilled lives, then we must be prepared to set them up for success. We must put their needs ahead of our own. In doing so we can discover our own reconciliation in the separation. And perhaps, like Lady, we too can move confidently from one new life experience to the next. I am reminded of the English poet Cecil Day Lewis writing about his seven-year-old son’s first term at the Dragon School in Oxford:

Walking Away

(for Sean)

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day-

A sunny day with the leaves just turning,

The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play

Your first game of football, then, like a satellite

Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see

You walking away from me towards the school

With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free

Into a wilderness, the gait of one

Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away

Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,

Has something I never quite grasp to convey

About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching

Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so

Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly

Saying what God alone could perfectly show –

How selfhood begins with a walking away,

And love is proved in the letting go.

Saying what God alone could perfectly show –

How selfhood begins with a walking away,

And love is proved in the letting go.



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