“I am not a smart man. But I know what love is.” Forest Gump.
I believe it was love at first sight.
I witnessed their first meeting, and I could almost see the spark of electricity that jumped between them. It is a rare thing, this phenomenon, but I believe it still happens on occasion. It is like lightning from a clear blue sky, or a rogue wave that hits the land without warning, washing away everyone and everything in its path.
They were an unlikely pair, a couple with more differences than similarities. A professional match-maker would have scoffed at the idea that they could fall in love and be happy together. There was just too much in their backgrounds and personalities to overcome.
She was of dubious heritage and bloodline, the youngest of a large family. She was used to hand-me-downs and being ignored. This made her try a little too hard to be noticed in social situations, as if trying to overcompensate for the attention she had been deprived of in her youth.
He had a distinguished family tree. The kind of family history that is recorded in Registers, with expectations that a high-brow blue-blood union would be in his future.
She was petite but pretty, with delicate features more akin to a china doll than a Grecian statue. She would never make the cover of a magazine or be “discovered” for the silver screen, but she had had the kind of plain wholesome beauty that the glamor girls often lack.
He was broad at the shoulder, wide in the chest, and narrow at the hip. He was rugged masculinity on display, all muscle and sinew rippling over big bones. He looked as if he could take down a bear if the occasion arose. You would not describe him as handsome, however, and his expression was often stern–except when he looked at her.
She was nervous and fidgety. Never completely still, she was given to pacing as if she always had something on her mind–some hidden worry or anxiousness.
He was laid back and easy-going. Some might even describe him as a bit goofy. Never seemed to have a care in the world. Despite his physique and stern look, he was happy-go-lucky. He was a lover, not a fighter, and his love was reserved for only one girl.
She could be moody and snappy with him. Sometimes she was even bossy. Not the kind of behavior that most “macho” guys would stand for.
He never seemed to mind. He was always loving and forgiving, letting unkindness pass without complaint or memory. He would shower her with kisses on such occasions, as if he could willfully love her out of her displeasure.
And so this unlikely match was pure love–the kind written about in fairy tales and old country songs. They were inseparable. They spent almost every waking moment together, and even when sleeping they were usually touching each other, as if by touch they could even be together in each other’s dreams.
As intense love stories often go, this one ended much too soon. In a moment as brief and rare as their first meeting, the wink of an eye or the nod of a head, he was gone. The doctors still aren’t sure what happened, but it appeared to be a heart attack. Struck down in his prime and too young to imagine such a fate could be possible.
And now she is left to grieve–and grieve she does.
Educated men have studied grief and written volumes on the subject. They postulate that there are definitive “stages” that must be passed through: denial, anger, acceptance, healing, and so forth. I don’t know about all that. I just know that watching grief can be as heartbreaking as experiencing it yourself.
She is confused and sad. She finds herself looking for him out of habit, as if he will suddenly be there again. She walks from room to room and visits all their old familiar haunts. She rushes to meet each new visitor and thrills at the sound of an approaching car, as if she expects him to be returning to her side at any moment. And each time, there is a heavy sigh of disappointment when he is not found.
She has turned us for comfort. She does not want to be alone. And yet when we must leave her, we return to find her sitting and staring off into space, as if awaiting her lover’s eminent return.
All of this worries me somewhat. I have seen this script too often. Love so powerful that is interrupted can lead to a quick demise of the remaining partner. It happens all the time. Johnny Cash didn’t last long without his June. You knew it was coming, and I did too, and we were powerless to stop it.
You will probably say that I am a hopeless romantic. You may say that I am projecting feelings where there are none. You might even think I’m crazy. For this love story is about my two dogs, Dolly and Max.
All I can respond is that I know what I see. Dogs love and dogs grieve. They are as close to humans in these emotions as any members of the animal world.
And I have one who has lost her love and is grieving.