It was a bright sunny day when I cut short my typical morning walk with my golden retriever, Dixie, and headed to Joan’s house. My neighbor, Cathleen, had called earlier that morning with news that Joan had to put her oldest golden down the night before, after its yearlong battle with lyme disease. Dog lovers will understand when I tell you this dog survived on little else but love: her love for her human family and their love of her.
As Dixie and I walked along the sidewalk, I could see an elderly woman ahead of us make a turn for Joan’s house. The woman walked slowly and with a limp, a hand in her right pants’ pocket, her head bent down. “She is going to be with Joan, too,” I thought as I approached Joan’s door not a minute later.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Joan,” I said, hugging her hard, and continued on about how I didn’t want to interrupt her visit with her neighbor, when we all ended up talking. A few minutes later another neighbor and mutual friend stopped by with her dog. “Isn’t that the way,” I thought. “Women being there for women.” And so it went for the next hour, the four of us talking over what happened, the emotions, the decision, the kids, carrying on.
It conjured memories of my Italian grandmother’s home at the holidays: how three generations of women would corral in the kitchen to cook meals, arrange trays of homemade cookies, wash dishes, dry glasses with linen dish towels, “So there’s no lint!” I can still hear my Grandma Guadagno say. As we worked together, we’d laugh and talk and cry over who had just married, who had just died, what baby had just been born. And then I thought of my lifelong best friend, Noelle, and that unspoken vow of women friendship we share. To be there for each other through it all.