I pass Pauline sometimes while I’m out for my lunchtime run near the office. She sits in the front porch shade with her dog and a pile of oranges from her tree, often reading from her bible, or talking on the phone, or talking with the postman who sometimes picks up little grocery items for her.
When we talk, I ask about her hip which needs replacing, or her eyes which are doing much better since the cataract surgery last summer, and inevitably talk of Tony, her husband, the love of her life who passed away a few years ago. They bought this house on the corner in 1971, and together they decorated for every holiday from Christmas to Easter to Halloween. She smiles a lot, but when I ask about Tony, she can't hold back the tears. Last year, the week before Easter, she didn't bother wiping them away as she told me that Easter Sunday was their wedding anniversary, and how lonely she is without him. Every minute, Pauline told me, she misses Tony.
She doesn't get around very well because of that hip, and without Tony she can't decorate, but it's Valentine's Day, and so today she is wearing a pretty red top and cheerful lipstick.
Around the edges of my love for Darby is the heart-wrenching awareness that every thing in this life is temporary, that the magnificent joys of today may be the deep sorrows of tomorrow. What do I do with that? Just the thought of it ties up my belly and nearly chokes me. So today I stop by with Valentine's flowers for Pauline.