In the past half year, I’ve lost my wife, my brother and my dog. I’ve wept with sorrow, then waxed philosophical. I’ve put one foot in front of the other on the treadmill, then sat stock still staring at nothing. I’ve ridden the rails between Chicago and Colorado, then lain wide-eyed, gazing at the ceiling I cannot see. I’ve asked why me, then answered why not me. I’ve never felt so much so deeply.
At the outset of this process called grieving, I wrote a reminder of “Things To Do.” Number one on the list is “Get out every day.” And every day means today, this uncharacteristically sunny and warm Sunday holding the promise of spring and the reality of spring training which quickens the pulse of we who follow America’s pastime.
So now I’ve harnessed my new dog for the pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. Not for a game but to circle the park: Addison from Clark to Sheffield to Waveland to Clark to Addison. That’s where I took my first Seeing Eye dog when I came to Chicago twelve years ago. Sherlock and I made the trek to prove we could—and we found that the eighteen blocks I’d expected between home and the park stretched to double that because each block counted only fifty address points rather than a hundred. But my miscalculation proved enervating because Sherlock loved to strut his stuff and I felt bold and eager for adventure.
So now Tundra and I are walking toward Wrigley Field to prove we can do it, twelve years after Sherlock. But what I’m finding is a whole new ball game. Twelve years and now the gray fog is thicker and darker. My God, how I feel isolated, obscured and fearful—tortured by this progressive blindness. And I’m dismayed how this reaction rises not from the street but from my soul. “Is it hard to put your trust in your dog?” asked a third-grade sage once and I marveled at his wisdom. And the answer lies with faith and trust. I must not become frozen by fear. I must keep my wits about me so Tundra and I make a team.
So now we’re at the spot, the Sheffield side of the right field wall, where Sherlock and I met the man who walked his dog to Wrigley Field. We met twelve years ago and I haven’t seen the man or his dog since. I can describe neither more than to say they sounded old. The man said he walked his dog to Wrigley Field on game days so the dog could eat food off the sidewalk because there wasn’t enough food at home. And I compared this to my abundance and my wish that Sherlock not scavenge sidewalk food. And while I was inclined to pity the old man, he sounded happy enough and I figured he knew better than I what he needed. And since the old man sounded happy enough, his dog probably was happy enough, too.
So now Tundra and I sit on the bench next to the statue of Ernie Banks or Harry Caray or a stick of Wrigley’s Spearmint. I hope the old man and his dog join us today. Not so he can tell me whose statue it is but so I can add to his story of how we do what we need to get by with what’s left for and within us. And how what’s left is sidewalk food and the spirit that is never lost but remains to help us heal and grow. Seems to me the old man knew about those sorts of things.
So now the sun is sinking and it’s getting chilly and Tundra and I are alone in shadows on the bench under the statue. And the old man and his dog haven’t shown up. Let’s go, Tundra, time to head home. I hope we travel safely. A mile and a half with who knows how many street crossings and sign posts. And who knows how much fear and faith. We got out today; we did what weeded. Today, I’m just the man who walks his dog to Wrigley Field.
*Listen to any song by The Lumineers, a great sound from Colorado.
*Move to any song by Antibalas, an 11-piece African beat band from Brooklyn.