There are some people in this world who, without even trying, alter the course of your life forever, bringing music and colors you otherwise would never have known.
For the good, or for the bad, and perhaps our perception of the shades inbetween the two.
Patty was one of those people. I didn’t know it at the time, and I certainly didn’t expect it, but in a way Patty saved me.
It was dark out, all the time. A deep, heavy darkness that had no form and held no life. It watched me, and I watched it. I saw it when I woke and when I lied down, and the only thing that got me up in morning was the dear beast by my side. The darkness was silent, save a few chilling words it whispered in my ear, “I am all things, and there is no light”
I heard these words often, and peering into the dark nothingness that whispered them, I saw all that broke my heart. The man who took my love and trust and wrecked it. Who twisted and bruised, and threw and tore. Again and again amidst hollow words and torment, until I could no longer breath.
And so I ran.
I ran and ran until I couldn’t feel his hands clawing at my heels and I knew I was free from the ropes that bound me.
In the darkness I also saw the podium people who thrust their judgement and cruel eyes towards me, proclaiming threats of demise to the bleeding heart on the side of the road, quoting from a God I didn’t know.
So I ran from them too.
And one night, I ran right into Patty. I think Bear led me there, I know of no other way this should have ever happened.
The darkness was especially strong that night, and all I wanted to do was hide from it.
Whatever that took.
My beast, however, had other plans. Whether he saw the darkness too and was simply too dumb to recognize it, I’ll never know. Maybe he was drawing me out of it. All I know is that night, he was adamant that we go somewhere, and so we did.
Driving with no destination in mind, I watched his slobbery head hanging out the window from the rear view mirror, he was smiling.
Where we found ourselves was near a park with a winding creek running through it. I used to go there as a child to collect tadpoles so I could watch them turn into frogs.
I brought the beast out of the car and we began walking down the path I used to know. As I turned a corner a saw a pack of dogs, the happiest lot of dogs I’ve ever seen. They were all smiling…….. Not just the people, the dogs.
And before I could blink, they were upon me. All of them- people and dogs alike, swarming me with pup kisses and smiles and pull-toys. It was as if they recognized me from another time and place, even seemed to be waiting for Bear and I to arrive.
And at the heart of this band of merry men and their pups stood one sweet soul. Patty. This was her group, colored by her kindness and unconditional love for every living being she ever came upon. There was something that immediately drew me to her.
It was her light.
Could it be? Light……….. light where there was no darkness. The whole group carried it, but it was Patty from whom it shone the brightest.
From that point forward I made it to the end of the day so I could go find Patty and the pack. To breathe the air with them and let our beasts do the same. They didn’t know where I had come from, and they didn’t care. They took me in as if Bear and I were long overdue and wouldn’t take no for an answer. They didn’t point, they didn’t judge, they didn’t even ask. They just loved me, and in that moment my life course was changed forever. The darkness had a hole, and light was there.
They didn’t know, didn’t realize that the darkness had been so close, it almost took me. They never knew they saved me.
That place and those people and their beasts became a haven I’ve never known before and will likely never know again. A place I could hide in but still exist, a place of belonging and love that had no limit.
Seven years later I still find them there and we walk along the creek where I was carried for a while. I cannot look at that water and those green trees and wonder if light and love exist. It is undeniable and it is unstoppable.
Yesterday, Patty left us and I had to say goodbye for the last time. After 30 years she packed up her family to travel across country and love more souls like mine elsewhere, no doubt. I tried my best amidst my tears to convey what she had done for me, to say without saying what she already knew. “don’t worry sweetheart” she said, “My love for you all will never change, and I will carry you in my heart forever, no matter where I go”
And I believe her. She loved me at my worst and swept light into a soul being pulled into the shadows. That sort of light and love lives forever.
Sweet Patty, you will be missed. Human or angel I may never know.