Today I went for a visit to Peyton's grave. It was about 2PM and my buddy Guerwyn (the 83 year old who I see up at the cemetery) brought some very sad news. Our other cemetery friend, a guy named Mike who was wheelchair bound after a construction accident, had aspirated when he got sick in his sleep and couldn't sit up. He passed away. This news came as a real shock. Mike, was barely forty.
A voice in my mind: "You need to find a way to start living."
After talking with Guerwyn, and discussing the news in disbelief, I made my way to visit Peyton's grave. It was bitter cold today, and I knew our visit would be cut short by the weather. I apologized for not coming by as often as usual, and explained how hard this last week has been for me. Saying my prayers, I went to leave, when two things caught my eye. The first was a large set of dog prints around my daughter's grave, and that of her neighbors. The second was that a vase at the grave beside hers was filled to the brim with yellow snow. The jerk I wrote about here and here had returned to let his dogs violate the graves on Peyton's Hill. Last week there was substantial damage to Peyton's grave blanket, and I thought maybe he was responsible. This evidence was irrefutable. He had promised not to return. He had said he understood. I was beside myself.
Walking back to the car, Guerwyn sensed that I was upset, and asked what was wrong.
"I wish I knew that guy's name so that I could look up his grave when he passes, and have my dogs piss on it."
"Your a meany!" Guerwyn teased with the joking smile of a kid, but his humor was lost on me. I was furious.
Taring out of the cemetery, I knew what I had to do, and headed directly to the Police Department. I was a woman on a mission. A protective mother who couldn't bear any longer to see the spot where her daughter laid being disrespected. I stomped the snow off my boots, and headed for the front door and straight up to the desk.
"Can I help you?" The dispatcher asked.
"I need to file a complaint."
"Regarding a man who lets his dogs defecate on my child's grave."
"Oh..." she offered, "just a moment."
I gave the woman raw details, and my contact information, and she promised an animal control officer would call me within the hour. I headed home, fed Charlotte (my black lab) and waited by the phone.
I should mention here that I have been on some crazy antibiotics the last week to fight any possible infection that might have been brought on by the HSG. The pills are huge, and have to be taken 2 hours after AND 2 hours before you eat, so that your stomach is very, very empty. They make me nauseous as all get out, and admittedly a little cranky, so when the phone rang and the woman, we will call her "Officer B", asked me what had happened, I spilled every gory detail of what this man had let his dogs do, and why it hurt me so badly. I then went on, in the uncensored manner that has become commonplace, to also spill all the gory details about my misfortune, all the way down to my two bum tubes.
"It's all a little overwhelming." I admitted. "You know, she's still my daughter. It might sound silly, because she is dead, but, she is still my daughter. I just want to protect her."
"I understand," Officer B. consoled. "I lost my daughter too. She was 24. To suicide."
Isn't it funny the way you feel an instant connection with someone? Just as I have with so many of you, because of our shared loss, I knew that Officer B really got where I was coming from, and in turn, having lost my own child, and a close friend as a teen to suicide, I understood where she was coming from. Our situations were totally different, but the bond was there. The connection was instant. In that moment I knew she, too, was determined to stop this asshat from letting his dogs violate Peyton's hill.
Officer B went straight to the cemetery and checked it out.
"I see footprints and urine everywhere," she acknowledged. "Now, here's the bad news. There are no leash laws in this town, so unless he is caught in the act, it's going to make it hard."
I told her I understood. And she promised to patrol the area at the time of day when I usually found him. We made more small talk, and promising to let her know if I saw him again, and she to let me know if anything came of the report, we ended the call.
Charlotte had a vet appointment today at 5 to get her second Lyme vaccination, and by 5:15 we were on our way back home. Walking in the door, I heard the phone ring.
"This is Officer B. You will never believe this."
"Right after I hung up with you, this little black dog came running up to me unleashed. Two more followed behind him. And finally, our guy."
"No! What happened?" I asked eagerly.
She told me about their exchange. How initially he provided false information and so she called for backup, who came in for the assist. I couldn't believe it. In less than two hours time, this wonderful woman had taken care of something that had caused me much grief.
"Your not the only one to complain." She told me. "There have been others from the church too."
She told me that she politely let him know that to walk his dogs there, they would have to be leashed and kept away from the stones, and if there were further complaints, he would be fined.
"I'm not gonna leash them," he told her. "My dogs like to chase squirrels, that's why I let them come here to roam around."
"Listen," she said, "I lost my child. I understand where these complaints are coming from. These people come here to grieve. That is what this place is for. Your dog's defecating adds to their grief. You cannot bring them here if you won't follow the rules."
Disgruntled, he said he would just find another place to bring them then.
"Good," I told her. "Go somewhere else."
"There's more..." she went on.
After looking up his real name she found that none of his dogs were registered, and he was met with a hefty fine on that one today too.
"Some happy new year!" was all he could say.
I couldn't believe her story, and it got me to thinking... maybe my doctor was wrong... maybe there IS justice in this world.
"I can't tell you how grateful I am for what you did today," I told her.
"I understand where you are coming from. I understand that pain. " She said.
We talked a bit more, about life, about our dogs, and then in saying goodbye, she added "look for the signs."
"Signs," I asked, "like from my daughter?"
"Yes, look for the signs, they are everywhere."
"Maybe this was a sign." I said. "Maybe our daughter's found eachother up there and brought you to me, and me to you, so that you could help me with this guy, and we could talk about our girls and our grief and come together. Maybe this was a sign."
"Maybe so," she agreed.
Maybe so, indeed.
THANK YOU OFFICER B!