Gandolf is gone.
His mitzvot, however, will not be forgotten.
He came to us on Israel Independence Day, and on Lag B'Omer he schlepped the spruce tree branches for our Lag B'Omer bonfire down to the desert for us.
Two days later, when I took him to the wadi for a bite to eat (he loves to graze), the sun sank beneath the hills and the breeze became a wind. I knew it was time to go home and walked up to Gandolf, reaching for his lead rope. But he wasn't ready to leave yet, and so he moved away from me. The more I followed, the more he led.
And then he began to make a break for it, and headed down the rocky slope.
I could not keep up, and he headed toward the river bed where green shrubs still grow, far below the ridge where we usually sit and watch the hills. It was treacherous going and when I realized I could not get down there to catch him, I began to climb back up in the fast-fading light.
It was no good and I slipped and fell halfway down the hill, bouncing on sharp flint outcrops along the way. It hurt and I realized I somehow had to find a way back. I was foolishly alone and had forgotten my cell phone. Sussie was already heading down toward Gandolf, pacing him and trying to herd him back home. It didn't work and they stayed together for a while....
I climbed slowly, painfully up the slope and made it back home, panting and upset. Sussie had stayed in the wadi and I told my husband and daughter what had happened. By the time they got me into bed and themselves back down to the wadi, it was dark and Gandolf was gone.
Sussie came home an hour later, without him.
Goldy and I got up early the next morning to search the wadi, looking for him. We didn't find him.
So I know he is gone. We will miss him. I hope he finds his way back home to his Bedouin family and avoids the people who beat him up. I hope he finds food and water. I hope he survives.