Walking Alone

I often wonder about the people that I meet on my runs. I wonder what their stories are. I wonder where they have been.

Sometimes I even make up their stories:

Her morning was filled with preparation. She had started at 10 and finally got in her car at 11:45 to make the short drive to the same lake where she had been walking for 40 years. As she arrived, all of the parking spots were taken.

But this wasn’t the first time this had happened and she knew some secret parking places. As she parked in the trees, she slowly and carefully got out of the car, adjusted her hat and started walking.

She wouldn’t go far. In fact, the loop around the lake was too far for her fragile body, but she would walk to the water’s edge and look out. She would look for the familiar birds she had been observing as seasons passed. She would cycle through familiar memories.

It was a time she had always treasured and it had been hard to continue to take the familiar walk when she had to replace her walking partner with a metal walking stick. He had been her life and strength. He had been her hand to hold as she walked this path and the path of life, but coming here wasn’t painful today. Today it reminded her of all the times they had together. Today it made her smile.

She didn’t hear the young woman who jogged past her. She never wore her hearing aids on these walks. She didn’t want to hear anything other than her thoughts, but she smiled, knowing that was part of the community that formed.

As she leaned on her walking stick, her steps were labored, but she knew that she would be right back here the next day, walking the same path.