I walk home through the late April twilight. A rain shower has cleared the air and left puddles at the curb. I step in the deepest parts of each. I used to be able to keep my feet dry.
My dog walks alongside me. His name is Randy. Before him, I had Sherlock. Before them, I had Molly. Randy and Sherlock came from the Seeing Eye, Molly came from the neighbor’s back yard. Things change.
I hear a baby stroller coming my way. I squeeze left and brace for the collision. Mother and child blur past. I hope mom took my grimace for a smile.
The songbirds are in full voice. I pause to listen. They fill me with music and lift my spirit. I never heard them before.
At the corner, I listen for a safe time to cross. I urge Randy forward. “Dogs go first,” I was taught. I breathe deep against the fear. I used to breeze across streets.
Here come two boys talking baseball. Third base was my favorite position. Now my glove goes unused.
I catch the scent of home cooking. I want to join them for supper. I’ve got plenty of time. I don’t rush around like I used to.
Randy pulls up short. I probe with one foot. The sidewalk falls off. I urge Randy left. We cross the parkway. He stops at the down curb. I urge him forward, then right. We walk parallel to the curb. I coax him, “Right.” He stops at the up curb. I urge him forward. We cross the parkway. We’re back on the sidewalk and the sidewalk is smooth. Walking didn’t used to be so complicated.
The western sky holds no light. Sunsets once came in red and orange and yellow and deep, deep blue. Now I see with my imagination.
We walk down our block. Randy cheats left. It must be Randy’s house. I remove his harness and unhook his leash. “Good boy, Randy, and welcome home.” I am grateful for the small things today. I take nothing for granted anymore.