This week I got married on my first date to a 3-year old Pyrenees-something-mix. We did not exchange rings, but I did sign a contract promising to treat her with love and caring, in sickness and in health. She walked into my house one year after, almost to the day that my 150 pound Newfoundland walked out of it for the last time.
Our relationship has started like a game of chutes and ladders. We were doing great and then she was distant and tired. She slept on the couch next to me, and then she did not want me close to her. On our walks it was clear that she had never seen a bicycle or a dog running with a human, or children flying past on scooters. Was her growl-bark a signal to play or a warning? She seems to want to protect me from trucks and people wearing masks and perhaps men. Definitely men.
But every day someone on the trail stops and tells me that we look wonderful together and that I am doing all the right things. They let her meet their dogs, give her treats and help me with a bit of socialization. Angel after angel are supporting me in these first rough days, and give me faith in the dog-match-maker-spirits.
And then on day four she was grumpy and I was anxious about getting my second vaccine. We made it home and she fell asleep in a corner, adjusting her attitude to the altitude, and I headed off to the pharmacy. The shot was quick and easy, just like the tears that ran down my cheeks when I made it back to my car.
And that was when it hit me, I have been wading through a sea of fear for over a year. Yes I launched a radio show, hiked, biked and kayaked all summer (yes alone), started a relationship and wrote a novel. But the entire year I walked through dark steep canyons wondering when boulders would tumble on to me, or a flash flood would sweep me away. Fear did not define me this past year, but it haunted me. Trepidation did not stand in my way, but it hovered around me like a malicious shadow.
Yesterday I walked out of the darkness into a brilliant shimmering light, as the sun warmed my heart and the shadows joined memories of old nightmares. And today two hearts are healing and walking into a new adventure.