In the years before my knees healed, and running was an impossible dream, I used to walk my dogs. First Andy, then the lovely Miss Coco. And most recently, my silly, endlessly amusing, ginger-cookie pal, Rusty.
With the world outside muted and my family resting serenely in the arms of Morpheus, there we were. Just a woman and her dog. In the ephemeral hour just before dawn.
It was a sweet time. A gift straight out of heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. Undisturbed. A writer’s blessing.
It was a time cherished. Held dear. Revered and coveted. The whispered hush before the busyness of the day began. Before E’s alarm went off. The kettle plugged in. Shower turned on. Before the Today Show announced another incomprehensible tragedy.
We walked the same circle route every morning. At that hour, I was a creature of habit. So were my dogs. But Rusty, in particular, was painfully predictable. You could bet money on him.
He sniffed every blade of grass. Peed on every shrub. Squatted and pooped in all the same spots. I carried a fistful of white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It was all part of our daily dance. I loved every minute of it.
On one of the last mornings that Rusty and I walked together, I had a bittersweet and profound experience. When we got to the bend in the road, the glorious spot at the crest of the hill, I caught a glimpse of eternity.
The lights below flickered like halos as the world awoke.
At that moment I wanted to fly. Spread my arms. And take off. Rusty has floppy ears that were engineered for flight. I have big hair.
We can do this, I thought.
I stopped and looked out at the sublime sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days were. Filled with the promise of forever.
But they aren’t of course.
I thought of my mother. My dear Ma. And how this breathtaking orange colored sky would have inspired her to paint.
What a view. Oh God, what a divine view. Tears came unexpectedly.
One day, if I’ve done this right, I will be the memory. I will be the gentle tear brushed from the cheek of one of my children.