Yesterday, Mickey and I went hiking at Cathedral Hills. Driving away after our hike,?I saw a woman at the end of her driveway tugging on the leash of her?puppy, while he tugged the other way playing?rowdily like puppies do.
I stopped in the middle of the road. “Your puppy is adorable. How old is he?”
“Thank you. He’s five months old. He loves everybody and wants to be everyone’s friend,”?the smitten puppy owner replied. Then, in that moment, her?smile was gone. “I got him to help heal my broken heart.”
“You have a broken heart?” I asked.
“My husband died.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“He passed away in June. We were married for 51 years. I’m lost. I don’t know how to be myself now. I don’t know who I am. I married him when I was sixteen. And, now what? I got Grover. He’s helping. I am out here walking him and talking to you,?when?I’d really rather be curled in a ball under my bed crying.”
I heard and felt?this woman’s profound loss. It was as if life had set her?adrift?at sea, without an anchor.
“I know about broken hearts. And, dogs. There’s nothing quite like a dog’s love to soften the pain of a broken heart. They can help you want to move?forward at times like these.”
“Yes. It’s true. I work one day a week at my church office. And, we have seven grandchildren.”
“We,” I thought, as I listened. She has been and will always be “we,” I imagine. But, now she’s lost?the?most important?part?of “we.”
“My name is Anne Marie.”
At that moment, a white Dodge Ram?drove?up behind me. I was still stopped in the middle of the road, having this poignant?conversation with this very sad lady. The driver of the truck expressed his?full-on?displeasure with the inconvenience by pausing at the side of my car and glaring, before driving on. Part of me?wished I could have told him why I was stopped in the middle of the road, chatting with Mary.
“It was nice to meet you Mary.”
“Thank you.?I cry hours every day but I have him. He keeps me going.”?She looked down and smiled at Grover, still rowdy?on the leash, obviously wanting Mickey and me to get out of the car and play with him. But, I probably needed to move?out of the middle of the road.
“Take care, Mary. Bye, Grover.” I waved at them both and drove away. Little Grover?is big?heart medicine?for Mary.