Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Cheetah

I was watching the movie "Duma" recently with my girls. I highly recommend it, by the way, to any of you with kids. Anyway, it's the story of a boy who lives on a plantation in Africa with his parents. He's riding in a car with his dad one night and they see a baby cheetah in the middle of the road, and stop. They can't see the mother anywhere and the boy begs his dad to take it home with them. The dad agrees, but makes sure the boy knows that he can't keep the cheetah forever, that they can help it learn to take care of itself but that they'll have to return it to the wild someday. The boy says he understands. They take it home, name it Duma (Swahili for cheetah), nurse it, raise it, try to teach it to hunt (which it can't do) and have fun with it. After a series of other adventures, the boy goes to return the cheetah to the wild. Duma runs into the savannah and immediately finds another cheetah to hang around with, and is finally successful at hunting and being the cheetah he was born to be. He turns back to look at the boy, and obviously recognizes him, but then runs away with the other cheetah and the boy is left in sadness. Of course, the moral of the story is that the boy loves Duma, and so he sets him free to be who he was meant to be. He understands that keeping him in captivity, while it's great for the boy, won't make Duma the happiest he can be.

I'm sure you all have guessed my intention in posting this story here. At the end of the movie, I told my daughter that was kind of how I feel about her dad. Of course I'm sad to set him free, but I know he's meant to be a cheetah, and because I love him, I want him to be the happiest he can be. She liked that.

Chris is running with another cheetah now, and though he looks back at me, I know he's happier in the savannah than on the plantation.

The problem is that the movie ends there. How does the boy move on from his relationship with the cheetah? Does he get another pet that is meant to be domesticated? How can that pet ever hope to compare to the beauty, grace, speed of Duma, and how can the boy possibly love another animal? I love my cheetah, but I feel like I am at the edge of the savannah, watching him run and hunt and play and be happy, while I just watch. I don't feel the capacity to move away from the savannah, and I can't imagine what that cheetah will need from me now. It's a sad realization for me, that I know he needed me to get him to this point, to help him realize his potential, but I don't see how I fit into the wild now.

I'm probably going to take a break from posting here for awhile. It's Chris's blog, and it should be about him and his life, which is increasingly separated from mine. Maybe I'll take up residence on another blog, or maybe keep quiet for now (I'm a lot more introverted than Chris...). Thank you for listening and responding. Have fun with my cheetah.



Suzan said...

That was beautiful, heartfelt, heart wrenching, sad, hopeful and hopeless all at once. I have such a difficult time dealing with so many emotions, especially so many incompatible ones without being a blubbering mess or numb to my core. You do it with grace (and literary style, I must add.) This year has contributed to making you a more amazing person than you were even before. Capable of things you once thought impossible. I hope you will have a chance to now focus on you and what your potential is. Chris' painful transformation has been born out naturally, yours was not natural and has been truly selfless, serving only the one you love. You have been swimming upstream for a long time. I hope you will now have your own chance to spawn.
You are one to live life. (I certainly would never have described you as introverted!Maybe it just feels that way right now.)
You deserve great happiness and that is my hope for you. Heavenly Father alone knows what you have gone through. He can help you find the joy you deserve.

Uncle D. said...


You're not doomed to love only one cheetah. Chris has found his life in the wild, and you can now seek another husband. You're a young, attractive, intelligent woman with a lot going on, and a lot to give.

Love, always,

Uncle D.

sara Stratford said...

Man Keri, well said. What a powerful analogy. Plus I'm really glad I got to hear the plot summary of the movie, since I opted to talk to you instead of watching it with the girls.

I love you darling. Let's start a blog of our own... maybe we can call it Assless Chaps?

Talk to you soon (and uncle D. is right... you'll find someone when you're ready).
Love, sara

Scot said...

“Of course I'm sad to set him free, but I know he's meant to be a cheetah, and because I love him, I want him to be the happiest he can be.”

I must say I started looking at these blogs of gay married LDS men with a strong bias against gay men who leave their family. It still bothers me quite a bit, but you’ve shown me a side to such a heartrending split here that I wasn’t considering. In a way I’ve been kind of assuming it was all up to the gay man in breaking his marriage or not (maybe that’s chauvinistic :-)). I wasn’t considering some women want to “set [them] free” for their mutual good. Still sad, to say the least, but your perspective makes me less willing to point a finger. Thank you.

Stephen said...

Well, you can always guest blog over at my site.

Lynne said...


I've run across these blogs also & while I think Keri (though I don't know her) has handled herself in a very amazing & sensitive way, my heart also breaks for her. I think she's done what she's had to do so that her family isn't completely destroyed. I don't think it was her choice - I don't know how much choice a person in her situation would have other than to continue to love & support this person who will always be a part of her life. I think she's been thrown into a life that I'm not sure anyone could be prepared for & has handled it impressively.

KK said...

Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. I am so touched that my post may have influenced others to see a new side of the "brokeback family" question. And Lynne hit it right on the head in understanding that though I did not choose this and have been confronted with a situation that is heartbreaking, I have made the choices I feel I needed to make in order to save myself, Chris, and the kids from further hurt and pain. It's nice to feel heard.

BB said...

I love you KK. I am weeping in my office thinking of you, your goodness, your honesty, and your beautiful family.

Chris said...

KK wrote: The problem is that the movie ends there. How does the boy move on from his relationship with the cheetah?

Over the past couple of days, I have imagined a continuation of the story.

In time, the boy himself turns to the life he was born to. He grows, matures, perhaps goes off to college at Oxford or Cambridge, far away from the savannah and the plantation. And there he builds a life of his own, and lives it beautifully.

He remembers the cheetah, wistfully at times. And though I don't know what kind of emotion a cheetah can feel, I imagine Duma remembers him and perhaps returns to their final parting place from time to time, hoping he'll see the boy there, even though he knows he won't.

The boy loves Duma, but there is a life to be lived.

I love you, Keri.

c.galen said...

Long ago I decided to stay on the plantation. the question resurfaces from time to time and aways will. I'm guessing that out on the savannah, I would look bag and probably turn into a pillar of salt. So I stay.