Slightly more than a year ago, we brought home our dog-child, Raney. What a gift!
Being the control-freak I am, it took a while for me to relax enough to take her in the off-leash area of the park. Eventually, I did.
Every day I would take her for a 2 1/2 to 4 mile walk -- some of which was off-leash. It was great for her (and it didn't hurt my training for the 3-Day either). And, slowly but surely, we began to notice the same people and dogs each time we went. There's Jim and Judy and their dog, Jack. There's Shola and her dog, Fozzie. And, there's Snicker and his owner (whose face I know, but whose name I don't). And, occasionally, we'd pass by Mary and her dog, Teddy. For a long time, I would just say "Good mornin' "and keep on walking. Then, little by little our "conversations" would get longer. Some people were slightly more "business like" on their walks than others, but you could tell that many of these people and dogs had come to enjoy meeting each other most every morning at about 8:30 and finding out how everyone was.
One day, I stopped and talked to Shola and I mentioned to her that I was going to do the 3-Day again this coming October. She asked questions and I shared some of my sister's struggle and we had a nice conversation that day.
Shortly after that I was heading back through the park on my way home and noticed Shola talking with Mary (whose name I didn't know at the time). I recognized Mary from the park and remembered that Teddy was "old and blind and grumpy." They saw me approaching and Mary called out "Are you doing the 3-Day walk?" I said "Yes." And then, Mary asked "Will you carry me in your heart?"
Mary had recently found out that she has breast cancer. And even MORE recently found that it had spread to her lungs.
I don't see Mary everyday, but when I do, we stop and talk and discuss how she is and how she feels. Mary thinks cancer stinks. So do I.
Today I was headed into the off-leash area when I saw Mary and Teddy coming out. We stopped and talked and decided that we'd have coffee tomorrow afternoon.
(Meanwhile, my sweet 1 1/2 year old puppy has figured out instinctively that she needs to give Teddy space. She explores the area around Teddy, but never tries to play with him. She just KNOWS. Teddy didn't have to "tell" her. I just love that!)
Anyway, as Mary and I were exchanging phone numbers, our friend, Shola, drove up with Fozzie. We all chatted briefly before Mary took Teddy home.
While we were standing at Mary's car, a thought occurred to me: All this time, I've been thinking that I was just going for a walk with the dog.
But the truth is, my world has been getting larger.