On my walk today with Buddy, I spotted a woman perched on a large, twisted root of an old tree.
It was unusual to see someone sitting there, as this was not a park but the front lawn of someone's house in an upscale neighborhood. She was dressed in fine clothes, all in black, resting her hand on a folded umbrella, though a gentle rain had begun. She looked to be in her 60s, but very well preserved, red hair pulled back in a chignon and pale blue eyes.
I pulled Buddy to the other side of me, so I could pass her on the narrow sidewalk without him bothering her, but she took no notice. Something in her expression made me stop to ask if she was okay. I wondered if she had maybe felt faint, and that's why she stopped to rest on this tree.
She looked up and said something in an accent - Ukrainian? Russian?- that I couldn't quite hear.
"I'm grieving," she said, barely above a whisper, as though the effort of speaking was too much. "I'm grieving," she said again.
And with those simple words, my heart broke for her, because her pain showed so clearly in her eyes. A parent? A child? A friend? I don't know. I could only reach down, and stroke her arm a few times, and tell her I was sorry, so sorry, so sorry, so sorry... Then I moved on in the rain with Buddy, and left her alone with her grief.