WILD THINGS IN CAGES

 

Let me tell you a little story about the wild heart, one you may not have heard.

 

Maggie was 78 and lived in northern Minnesota in a home she was born in. For all those years, she drew her own water and she and her husband put up wood for winter, filled their larder with hunted and gathered gifts from the earth, and lived in accordance to what Mother Earth dictated. As time moved forward, they saw no need to change their way of life. Even after her husband transitioned, Maggie refused all attempts by her family to move to a place closer to town, a place where life would be a bit easier. She was happy in her small cabin in the wildwood.

 

But the day came when her wishes were overridden by family because she could no longer safely take care of herself. For a short time, Maggie lived in an assisted living facility but it did not last. She had trouble adjusting and would become confused by her surroundings, couldn’t sleep from the intrusion of noise and light – and the utter boredom drove her to a place where appetite and interaction had no meaning. Soon she went to a full care nursing home.

 

Maggie was the grandmother of my friend Lisa and the day came when Lisa asked me to attend the memorial for Maggie who had finally made her escape from the world she no longer understood.

 

Lisa relayed how difficult the weeks previous to the memorial had been. One night, when the spring moon was full, Maggie had slipped out unknown to her caretakers, became confused and walked to the river 2 miles away. According to the search and rescue dogs, her trail ended there and her body was not found, though divers searched the water for many days. There were lawsuits and lawyers and finger pointing. There was guilt and anger and what if’s and should have’s.

 

But none of that was necessary. Each party that touched Maggie’s life was trying to help her, to comfort her, to keep her safe. It was Maggie who made the decision.

 

I doubt she was confused. I doubt she had broken with reality. I doubt there was not Divine Intervention to help her open that window she used for her escape, with the moon lighting her way, with the unseen path that led to the river.

 

Lions and tigers and bears. Whales and wolves and birds of prey. And Maggie.

 

Some wild things can’t live in cages.