Silver hair, slight build, they were nearly twins. White baseball caps, baby blue Members Only windbreakers, freshly pressed khaki trousers and matching white tennis shoes. Always ready with a golf umbrella for two, the Mr. carrying it overhead if the day was particularly scorching. Always holding hands and stepping together in unison. According to my neighborly observations, they walked two times each day, morning and evening like clockwork. The sight of them as I left for or arrived home from work never failed to make me smile.
I wondered about all the places they’d walked in their long lives. Had it always been together? Had they ventured out or never longed to stray far from their home? Had they braved treacherous mountains or chased each other through flowery fields? Were their roads freshly paved for the most part or were some of their chosen treks gravelly and freckled with pot-holes? Were there landmines they avoided as one, or had they taken turns leading the way through quicksand and volcanic soil? Had the geography mattered at all or had the magic in the palms of their joined hands negated every possible physical feature of the places they had walked as one?
I wondered all these things again as I saw her walking by herself. Not just once, but day after day over the last few weeks, until it became clear that this solo walk, without her Mr. was her new routine. She still dons her baseball cap, Members Only jacket, freshly pressed khaki trousers and white tennis shoes, umbrella in hand, but she now walks alone. I wonder if her steps fall heavier, if her ligaments are mired in grief. Do her single footfalls thunder and taunt? Does she feel perpetually out of step or breath at the sheer struggle for normalcy that slaps her face each morn? I wonder if her hand sweats tears, for the one she use to hold. I wonder if she talks to him the way she use to when they walked hand in hand. I wonder if the wind carries back the sweet nothings he use to whisper in her ear.
We’ve all lost someone. We’re all walking without someone we use to walk with. Relationships have run their course or friendships have faded as paths have diverged or someone moves away. Lovers have stopped loving. Loved ones have passed away. Pieces of our hearts are bruised, missing, stolen or lost. We’re not the same as before and we never will be again.
We’re different people today from both yesterday and tomorrow. We’re forever changed by those we meet, interact with and especially by those we’ve loved. For better or worse, we’ve been lessons or blessings to each other, fingerprints on each other’s hearts.
I believe we should recognize the worth of them all, for we are who we are, in part because of them, thanks to them or in spite of them. Whether we realize it or not we’ve all impacted the lives of those we’ve walked with, whether for a moment or a lifetime. Each of our “dashes” is different because of our interaction, because our paths have crossed.
I wonder a lot, but even more I pray, that if I ever find myself walking alone, that the wind will whisper to me of golden days and the sun will warm my soul. And when it rains, it will rain tears of joy for all of those I’ve held in my heart, who’ve walked with me, for a moment or a lifetime.
Peace and Love