A Friend Indeed
Jury duty is just that, a duty. If you happen to open your mailbox to find an official looking letter summoning you to a week of jury duty, be aware: this is not an invitation to be weighed; it is a requirement. Therefore, when I received such a summons for jury duty back in March, my mood clouded over as I saw my service was set to begin on the one day out of three hundred and sixty five that happened to be the very day I was born. To spend my birthday on jury duty seemed cruel and unnecessary at best, particularly since I was already booked into my favourite inn at the beach for that week. So I wrote a very nice letter, and lo and behold the very nice people at the very nice courthouse postponed my service until June, which was how I found myself up much earlier than usual on a morning last week, stifling a yawn as I waited in the security line for my handbag to be searched.
Having heard there was a lot of waiting around when one serves as a juror, I’d brought along a fat and wordy book as well as the crossword puzzles from the morning papers and a freshly sharpened pencil. Turns out I didn’t get very far in either diversion, for I was called to a courtroom within the hour of my arrival. This just might be interesting, I thought, as I followed my fellow potential jurors into the courtroom. A great opportunity for observation and character study. My heart fell to my espadrilles, however, when I heard the judge announce that she was beginning jury selection for a criminal trial involving charges that made me shudder just to hear them read. Forty-two potential jurors had to be interviewed which, much to my amazement, required them to speak at intrusive length about horrors in their own lives. I had no idea this happened in jury selection and felt the weight of sadness growing heavier as I listened to seemingly ordinary people recount parts of their past that were painful to hear and no doubt excruciating to relate. Hours passed. We were finally released at six o’clock and I drove home feeling quite low.
There were dark clouds moving in from the west as I pulled into the drive, indicating the approach of a summer storm. The house was still. Obviously the dogs were out in the studio with The Songwriter. But just then I heard a familiar thump on the back door and it swung open wide as Edward bounded in. Being of excellent hearing, and having recently mastered the art of opening the screened porch door of the studio to let himself out when needed (something Apple has yet to work out), he came running when he heard my car.
Too dispirited to manage an effusive greeting, I merely patted him on the head and fell across the bed in a heap. Thunder rolled in the distance as the first fistfuls of rain began to hit the roof. The curtains over the window seat blew in and out as the wind whipped up and the room grew dim. Edward sat watching me; I could feel his brown-eyed stare on the back of my neck. After a long minute he jumped lightly up on top of the bed. Snuggling up as close as he could get, he placed his big head on my shoulders and sighed a heavy sigh.
For those unfortunate enough to have never known the comfort a dog can bring, I can only say it is unsurpassed on the earth. Words are superfluous; explanations, irrelevant. I lay there for a good while - listening to the rain pound the garden as the wind blew sweet scents of wet honeysuckle into my room, all the while with Edward never moving from my side, his breathing slow and steady. One of my favourite quotes is by C. S. Lewis who said, “Man with dog closes a gap in the universe”. I felt that gap gently close that afternoon as once again, I felt a measureless gratitude for my good furry friend. I can only hope I make his life a fraction as sweet as he makes mine.
Next morning, I was not selected to serve on that jury. It was probably because the detective is a neighbour of mine, but I didn’t stop to ask questions as I scurried out the door, feeling somewhat guilty over the relief rushing through my veins. I drove home quickly and took Edward for a long, long walk in the sunshine. I needed it, and goodness knows, he deserved it.
If you don’t have a dog of your own, go get one!
Or as Edward and Apple would suggest, go rescue one!
You will never regret it.