We arrived at our hotel just outside of Boston and I decided to stay in the car as Joe went in to register. I was immediately glad that I did because as Joe went into the hotel another man came out with a lease attached to a dog that looked just like our wonder-dog Eric. Though Eric has been gone now for several months, I still miss him and it was like a wonderful shock to see this pooch leave the hotel. I spoke to the guy as he passed the car window and he stopped to talk. His dog glanced up at me and I saw intellegence in it's eyes as I was checked out.
Eric was a found dog, an abused dog, who came into our lives and enriched us for 16 years. This dog, I hear was also a foundling. The guy tells me that the dog and he connected while he was a grad student in New York City, he was alone, so was the dog, that was that. I told him a bit about Eric but had to stop as I got myself all choked up. Then his wife came out of the hotel and said hello to me as she figured out, correctly, that we were talking dog.
A little girl peeked out from behind her mother's legs and said distrustfully, "Don't let him take our dog." I smiled down at her and saw that she had Down Syndrome, I told her that I wouldn't take her dog away. "That's good," she said and went over and wrapped her arms around her dog and looked defiantly up at me. I swear the dog smiled.
She was a beautiful girl. I'm bad at guessing ages but she was probably ten or eleven years old. Like her parents she was beautifully dressed and like her mother, she was stunning. She and I talked about dogs and when I told her Eric had died, she teared up and said, "Well, maybe you can have Lucy." I choked up again and thanked her for her kindness but it wouldn't be fair to Lucy to have to get used to new people. She thought, deeply, and said, "Yeah, that's right." I could tell she was relieved.
I turned back to her parents and said, "That little girl is really going to break some hearts one day." I truly didn't mean anything other than she's beautiful inside and out and she will one day be a real catch. But mom swung at me with her words, "And what do you mean by that?" I could tell she was angry.
"Whoa, Whoa," I said and explained that disability was what I was and what I did. I told her that I work with many people with Down Syndrome that were married, had jobs, were adults. I didn't see anything about her little girl that told me that this wasn't possible. She was beautiful, socially skilled, kind, what's not to like, what's not to love.
She stood there frozen for a few minutes, Dad had begun to tear up so he covered it by bending down and petting Lucy. Joe came out of the hotel and stopped. He could tell, he said later, that something had just happened. "I leave you in the car for 15 minutes and you are up to your ass in an emotional mess," he said later.
Mom came back from where ever she retreated. She smiled, said, "Thanks, I just never thought ..." and they were away.
"You OK," I asked to her retreating back.
She turned and said, "I'm not used to strangers talking about my daughter as having possibilities. I'm not used to thinking of her as an adult and being married. This has all just thrown me, I guess."
Dad scooped up Lucy and jogged back and let me pet Lucy through the car window. I thanked him.
When he left, we were both crying.