This past week I have been walking dogs. In the face of illness and tragedy, it seems like the only thing I could possibly do was show up, and walk the dog. When the humans were grieving, vomiting, sleeping, pacing, someone needed to walk the pooch. This week that human was often me.
Walking the dog is just something that needs to be done, like laundry or taking out the trash. No matter how worlds spin out of control, a dog needs to be walked. For me, walking the dog has become a metaphor for picking up and getting on with it. For continuing acknowledging pain and then just doing what needs to be done, without fanfare or drama. Quite literally it is about cleaning up the poop, stretching ones legs, breathing in the air and going around the block only to arrive exactly at where I started.
Max and I have been walking dogs together this week. He keeps track of each of them and asks me each night in the car, “Allie or Louie, mom?” We walk for a half hour at a time, giving the dogs time to explore. We walk and find ourselves talking about things that never would have occured to us otherwise. About the smell of leaves or the mean kid at school or about why dogs talk to each other by peeing.
Its been cold this week. Brutally cold for Maryland in November and I wonder about dragging my son out in the evening for these walks. But Max rarely complains. He doesn’t even ask me anymore about why, why do we need to go. My answer is simple. We need to walk the dog because it needs to be done. Someone is ill, sick, in the hospital, tired. So we will go. That is how we are as a community. When one of us is out the other walks the dog. No big deal.
And it is no big deal. It is no fancy thing–no gourmet meal prepared, no major Herculean task. It is a walk, around the block reminding me that life goes on, and on and on. And when the bottom falls out, we can simply do more than keep it moving.