I remember, a long time ago, when I used to have a social life.
My husband, Peter, and I have been visiting his sister, Lori, once a week while she battles cancer. She was in yesterday for another radiation treatment, and we are waiting to hear if she will be feeling well enough for a visit this weekend. And so we stay home, as we have since March of last year.
Lately, we have taken to picking up our groceries at the curb. I was skeptical. I’d never had another person choose my broccoli for me. They did a surprisingly good job, and it’s one more thing we can do to feel a little safer while visiting Lori. But it’s also a little sad because the grocery store is the only place I go.
Now, I go nowhere except on my long daily walk and to visit Lori. And the only person who comes to our house is our neighbor, Yvonne, and the dog, Remington.
Yvonne’s dad is 90 and frail. He hasn’t been out of his house other than for a couple of doctor appointments and the occasional drive around town. Yvonne is keeping extra safe so she can bring him meals and groceries. Yvonne just retired and thought she’d be going places and doing things she couldn’t do while she was working. Instead, she’s walking her son’s dog, Remington.
Our twice-weekly visits from Remington have become the center of our social life.
Yvonne rings the doorbell and then steps back off the stoop. But Remington strains on his leash in anticipation. Yvonne confirms these visits are the highlight of his week.
Peter makes a wonderful smoked salmon, and we save the skin for Remington. I bring it out on a plate, along with a bowl of water. Remington eats the salmon and has a drink and then waits, poised, for the entertainment.
Entertaining Remington has become an elaborate affair.
Peter brings out exactly six “pub snacks,” which are crackers he has renamed “pup snacks.” He tosses them high in the air and Remington catches them. Peter calls this Remington’s “circus trick,” and Yvonne and I cheer wildly every time Remington catches a cracker. You can see Remington’s fierce concentration as he performs for three adults, focused on his performance. It’s a lot of pressure for one young dog, becoming the center of three adults’ social calendar.
This routine has become so firmly established that, one day, I was late with the salmon and Peter tossed the crackers before its arrival. Remington was visibly confused but caught the crackers. Then, one by one, he carefully placed them on the step to eat after the salmon because he knew that was the way it was supposed to be done.
And all the while we have been entertaining Remington, we have missed important milestones, experiences we will never have, moments lost forever.
My parents are in their 80s and I missed both their birthdays. My niece turned 18, which is impossible to believe. I hardly recognize my nephew on Zoom. He seems to have grown a foot and his voice has changed. I have missed attending the theater, missed seeing the ocean, missed entertaining friends, missed going to restaurants, missed hugging my family. And those are just things I know I have missed.
Meanwhile, Remington competes twice weekly for the title of “World’s Best Circus Dog,” my only live entertainment for the past 11 months.
“See you soon!” Yvonne says when she leaves.
“Goodbye, Remington!” I say, and Remington leaves, tail wagging.
I hope he comes back soon.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.