So I went for a walk this afternoon.
Just like I went for a walk yesterday afternoon, and the afternoon before that.
Rushing first, rushing, rushing, rushing….becoming breathless because in truth, I haven’t walked like this for at least two years.
I know why I’m walking. I know it. I’m looking. I know this feeling. I remember it.
I’m looking for her. But I know I won’t find her.
But I hear rustlings. I hear peeping in the thickets. I hear the swishing of the leaves. Or could it be her?…….
I haven’t been on this path for a long time, not since Skye’s elderly back and balance and strength would no longer allow it.
I haven’t been on it since I lost my first heart-dog, Riley.
Our visits had been clipped short. I would drive to our spot, the same spot we had driven to for the last 14 years, take out the ramp, open the hatch, help her up on her feet with her harness and slowly guide her down. She would wobble but right herself, walk to the same familiar entrance to the woods, sniff, pee and then return back to the car.
It was enough. She could do no more.
I remember coming to the same spot with Riley, 14 years before. She would not get out of the car. She was not even able to do that.
Today, things have changed.
This is our woods. But the memory has changed. It has been invaded. Defiled. You can’t stop me. I’m walking here. I have always walked here. Sometimes with another dog friend. But always here.
Through here was our spot. The opening to the water. The giant old willow that bowed down toward it. The same trunk that both Riley and I walked along, tip-toeing, balancing. When I started to come with Skye, it finally crashed down. And further along….
We would watch the river together.
…and then pause, discuss our plans before hopping the stream and walking under the railroad bridge.
But today, it is hushed.
I have to turn around and go another way. To where we used to play in the river.
….where the chunk of concrete was exposed in the early spring and Skye would search for sunken treasure, it is now submerged by late summer rains…
I turn away from the river and walk along the shaded paths, now grown over and unfamiliar…and I brush the trees and towering undergrowth away from my face…and feel the tears.
But wait…Do you see? Does the grass look like fur to you too?
I have walked these paths. I will walk these paths again. But today, this path is lonely and dark.
But my memories are not.
It will take time.
Today, I went for a walk…