Her name is Yvette. My cancer-fighting, morning-walk-smiling friend whom I haven’t seen for weeks now. I worry about her when I don’t see her regularly, which I haven’t now for several weeks, and it takes me a second to register that it is Yvette, because when we cross paths she’s usually on a certain side of the street. Today, she’s on the opposite side of the street from where I expect to find her, and I’m so happy to see her that I dart across the street where she offers a giant hug. She tells me that she has what her doctors call “chronic cancer,” and that her current regimen of chemotherapy keeps it in check but doesn’t cure it. She laughs and nods with her knitted-cap-covered head, “I don’t think my hair will ever grow again,” and abruptly changes course, “but really, I’ve been worried about you!”
Her generosity moves me. Yvette might not know what I am carrying in my heart or on my daily walk, but she knows that in this life, all of us are handed losses. We lose – often more than we win – but the trick is to stay in the game. And if you find a friend along the way, win or lose, it’s a good day. My heart is lifted by her presence, by the knowledge that she is looking out for me, just as I am looking out for her.
Next I see Kathy. I don’t really know her either, but what I do know is this: her beautiful black standard poodle is a rescue whose history includes abuse. His previous owners called him Diablo. Whenever we see each other out with our respective dogs, which is about once or twice a week, one of us crosses to the opposite side of the street to give the dog-formerly-known-as-Diablo his space. We wave and smile and keep moving.
But I almost don’t recognize her with the black lab. It’s her son’s dog, she explains. Then she tells me that just a few days prior she had had to euthanize her beloved black poodle. Totally unexpected. Completely heartbreaking. Within a few hours after that she received more news: her daughter-in-law was going into labor, and by morning she had delivered a healthy baby boy. Overwhelming joy. Devastating loss and utter bliss in the space of a few hours. The one has nothing to do with the other; both have everything to do with the human capacity for love.
On the final hill, I spot a lucky penny. It is scratched and dented and bent and rough. It has been through the penny wringer. Probably twice. The sorriest looking talisman I’ve seen in a long time. Even so, it makes me smile, reminding me that inspiration comes from the unexpected and unlikely. I pick the penny up and tuck it safely into a pocket.
Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And friends to keep you going.