I’ve been reading to Lori.
Lori is my husband, Peter’s, older sister. She has cancer and has been battling it for a while now. She uses oxygen to help out and catching this virus would be terrible for her, so Peter and I are extra careful, in large part because I’d like to keep reading to Lori.
I’ve been writing a novel. It’s the first time I’ve written fiction, so I honestly don’t have any idea what I’m doing. It’s the sort of thing a person learns how to do by doing — and so I’ve been doing it, pretty much alone, since the end of January. Except that, sometime in there, I started reading it to Lori.
Peter has been cooking. Peter is an excellent cook. I strongly recommend, if you are a writer and it’s not too late, you marry someone who cooks because sometimes I get so wrapped up in my imaginary little world, I forget about cooking meals and when I come downstairs, Peter always has a pot of something on the stove. He’s good about things like that and, since about the first of the year, Peter has been bringing food to Lori.
Unlike me, Lori has a good excuse not to be cooking. She’s not always hungry, her diet is restricted and sometimes she just doesn’t have the energy to think about making food. Peter brings over food and when he does, I read.
As this virus has stretched on, these days of reading have become more important to me and, I suspect, to all of us. Sometimes I dress up a little. It feels good to put on a sundress for a change. We sit outside on opposite sides of her deck. Lori’s husband, Robert, puts Peter’s food in the fridge, and we find out how Lori’s been feeling and what treatments she’s been on most recently.
“Shelley called,” Lori will say. And she’ll tell us about phone calls she’s had from family.
Then the conversation sort of winds down because, let’s face it, none of us are doing much these days. That’s when I’ll read a chapter or two.
Sometimes the neighbor mows the lawn and I have to speak up. Sometimes we get some competition from ravens squawking in the trees. Occasionally, a little rain comes in. Lori and Robert sit under the patio umbrella and Peter and I sit under the overhang of the house. We let the rain pass and I keep reading.
Lori laughs out loud — which makes me happy. She laughs at both the funny and the gruesome parts. When I am finished, she and Robert ask questions and Robert, who is not generally a fiction reader, asks some excellent ones.
We leave before it gets too late. I have a hike to take. Lori gets tired. Robert needs to heat up whatever Peter has brought for dinner. And when I get home, I always feel better than when I left.
I’ve come to think of the little gatherings on Lori’s deck as a sort of distillation of everything we need as humans. We need nutritious food and we need to sit together and we need to share stories. And we need to laugh. We need to laugh a lot more than we have recently.
Over the next few days, I write a little more and Peter keeps on cooking, and we keep in touch with Lori by sending a text or two.
Then Peter will ask, “When would you like to read to Lori?”
“Anytime,” I say. “Any day that works for her.”
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.