Aching for Connection

Is there that much difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life?

Today I was happy to see the sunshine. Like many, the stresses of the day sometimes overwhelm me. What’s the “new norm” during our pandemic not only changes day to day, but hour by hour and it’s exhausting trying to keep up. So, today, knowing that it’s still okay to take your dog for a walk, I gathered up my happy puppy and took off around the neighborhood pond. 

There were several people walking around, all doing the proper 6 ft+ distance. Some families. Some other dog-walkers. And several senior citizens. There is a nice little retirement community near the pond, so it’s not uncommon to see those that are still active walking around the pond.

Today one of the older ladies made a comment about how cute my dog is as we crossed paths ( I get this SOO much 😊). My normal self would say “thank you” and keep walking. But, I know it’s hard for people right now. I know people are lonely, and there was just something in her bright blue eyes, enlarged by her thick lenses and framed by soft white hair that just made me stop thinking of my comfort level. So, I stopped (proper 6 feet away) and asked her how she was holding up. 

This sweet little woman was like a dam that burst. She had been so aching to have conversations that we stood like that for 30 minutes. She shared that she used to have a dog like mine and her name was Josie. She told me how when Josie got old, she would often just fall over when out walking and lay there for a minute or two until she could get up and walk again (I’m pretty sure the dog was having seizures, but she seemed content thinking her dog was just resting and I wasn’t going to dispute that). She tentatively petted my dog as Bella sniffed around her. 

She told me she lives all alone. With tears, she shared that her husband of 28 years just died in January. She said 2020 has been really really hard on her. My heart hurt for her pain.

I asked her to tell me about her husband. She said they had been married 28 years. They met when she was 53 and he was 61 at an art class. He was the only man in the class and he chose her! They used to love to camp and be outside a lot and she misses that. He sometimes drank too much and in the end, had Alzheimer’s, but she said she wouldn’t change a thing. 

After sharing more social distancing conversation, she looked me so hard in the eyes and said, “Thank you so much for your time and talking with me.” I thanked her for sharing with me and continued on the path.

My neighbor has an ordinary life, like many others, but also different than many others. Both of those things make it an extraordinary life. Had I done what I usually do, what I’m comfortable doing, I would have walked on by and never known such a sweet story and woman.