"Then one shall wait in wind and rain,
Where forty cheered you going."
From 'The Rush to London' by Henry Lawson
I've been travelling for work and study for pretty much thirty years now but leaving home never gets any easier. There's sometimes the promise of adventure ahead, an interesting meeting, a new destination, getting a deal done, so you leave with some anticipation, but that final moment of departure, of goodbye, always hurts the heart.
This morning dawned brightly and warm, we're in the last throes of summer. If it were a weekday, no big stress, but today is Saturday and I'm flying to South East Asia so I already have a sense of loss for the weekend ahead. My family suffers the departures but the last six months have seen my travelling much curbed so that has been great. There's one family member who feels the pain of my leaving more than others, whose look of hope that he might join me on the road always ends in disappointment. That's Finn.
Finn is a seven-year-old Jack Russell terrier who chose our family from a great many others he may have joined. We feel privileged. We love him very much and those feelings are strongly returned. Finn was born stone deaf so he has the habit of looking at you very, very closely. Finn is an eye dog.
Each and every day that I'm at home I aim to walk with Finn in the morning and evening. He loves the adventure of it, the smells, greeting other dogs, peeing and scratching, just being together, mates. When life intervenes and our walk doesn't happen he looks at me with great compassion for he knows it's me who suffers the loss of our time together the most but his eyes carry their own disappointment.
When it's time for me to travel, I prepare a bag the night before. Finn, who follows me around the house in case I sneak off without him, sits beside it, watching as I fold and place my clothes. It's a calm look, no hint of sadness at what he now understands lies ahead, though sometimes, when I turn my back, he climbs into the suitcase, curls up and goes to sleep. I wonder if he knows how much it affects me to have to gently lift him out.
So it was this morning that I moved my bag into the garage and there he sat, right next to it with that hopeful look, "Can I come with you? Can I?" Sadly not mate. I said goodbye to my wife - both our boys were elsewhere - and went to load my bag in the car. Finn watched, hoping for a last minute "Oh, come on mate" gesture, but no. I gave him a pat and a kiss, told him I'd not be long away and drove off. As I went out the gate, I looked back and saw that he was watching me. He slowly turned and went back inside, out of the heat.
I feel truly blessed to have a life so dedicated to loving me, as Finn does. Finn feels absolute joy just being with me. His unconditional love fills me up - it calls the love in me. It hurts to hurt him and so he calls forth my compassion too. Returning home, the look on his face and the wagging tail says it all; he teaches me how to forgive. The sweet voice of love from a small dog shows the power that Nature holds to bring out the best in us.
The love we leave behind comes in many forms and from many sources. I strive to bless it, to hold it and return it. I'm a very lucky person.