We strolled beneath Orion, the dog and I, towards the open grassy sports fields by my old school. It is one of those small unnoticed oasis within the town borders still willing to yield just enough darkness to view the stars clearly at night.
The bloated crescent Moon hung high above us and turned the snow-clad lawns into a ghostly pale mask upon which we scampered around like flies on cattle on a hot summers day. We giggled and laughed each in our own way and chased around after each other, and it felt like a thousand worries were lifted off my heart.
Sometimes, I feel that such moments are the only really tangible memories I have left of my bro. Had he been alive then he would have been there with us. And most likely, he'd have been the one laughing the most. It is good to still have such moments and to keep them alive, and him with it.
I stopped in at the near-by gas station and bought a few treats… more because I could than because I needed anything… The kid behind the counter was unusually friendly and chatty, and it almost made me miss the long nights I used to work at another gas station myself years ago. I liked that job. A lot more than I generally admit. And in some ways, I do wish I could go back.
Anyway, we chatted for a while and I left with a renewed sense that strangers are friends we haven't met yet. Of course, he and I will never be friends… most likely we will never met again, and neither of us would remember the other or care if we did. But that's besides the point entirely. It is the concept that mattered. I also left with a handful of treats that he'd given me for free for the dog. See, I told you he was friendly.
As I walked around the building to the post where I'd secured her leash, I saw her sitting there waiting for me… her head cocked slightly to look around the corner as far as possible to spot my return as quickly as possible. And as I undid the leash and fed her a few of the treats, praising her for being good, I marvelled to myself at the loyalty of dogs. To be left, tied to a post in a strange utterly deserted place at night in the freezing cold without knowing why… and still sit there exactly as I left her when I came back… that to me is amazing. And admirable.
Somehow, it made me smile and feel a little humbled. What she and so many other dogs do countless times, never being given power to consent… most of us would cringe and fold at. Yet they are uncompromising in their devotion. Their faces still light up when we return. It may not be a willing or chosen trust. Necessity demands it of them. But I am sure there is a valuable lesson in there somewhere for many – for me at least it seems there is.
Slowly, neither of us wishing an end to the moment we were sharing, we strolled along the familiar streets, the dog and I, heading back home with Orion covering our backs. And somehow it seemed the world was at peace and as it should be.