Dearest Rachel –
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And I’m not even thinking about the training for the Marathon (or, barring actually committing to it, the continued running and walking exercise between home and work), although there is that. It’s just that, well… life goes on. Things have to be done here and there, and that’s what life is full of, like it or not.
Yesterday was full of those sorts of things – just the sort of stuff you expect to have consuming the first day of a work week (not that that’s a thing for me, in any event). From the first whine of the dog at six in the morning – who needs a rooster, or an alarm clock, for that matter, when you have an old dog to take care of? – to the moment I determine he’s down for the night at eleven or so, there is always stuff to get done. Maybe nothing that actually had to be done this moment, or even this day, but it’s best to take care of things when they occur to you, otherwise, once they slip your mind, who knows when they will cross your mind again?
And I know, you would generally write those sorts of things down, to be dealt with at an opportune time. I keep finding notes and lists from you to yourself, and I do appreciate hearing from you even on such trivialities. But writing stuff down isn’t the same as doing any of it. I’m not going to be leaving Daniel with the kind of written record you left me, but I am going to leave him a very different house than the one you left.
Although I’m not sure he’s going to be happy with that for a while. None of us were ever much for change, and the changes we’ve undergone since the beginning of the year have been drastic, and they truly seem as if they’ve been accelerating from one day to the next. Even I’m hoping that at some point, life might take its foot off of the gas pedal for a while – that’s all I ask, just enough for us to catch our breath.
Of course, I’m the one doing all the moving around at this point, mostly because once I’m up, I just don’t want to sit around this empty house anymore. Besides, there’s always stuff to do. Even once Chompers has been taken care of (for now) and settled into place, I feel the need to go out and pick up strudel for Daniel for breakfast, for whenever he wakes up.
I wonder if you’d think I was catering to him too much. I don’t know what the two of you used to do for breakfast on weekdays when I went to work one place or another – given your sleep schedules, you two probably skipped it altogether and went straight on to lunch more often than not. But I do worry, that without anyone prompting him to do so, whether he’d ever bother to eat.
As long as he’s still asleep, though, I also get the chance to register to get the Covid vaccine from our local hospital system. This is probably something that, had you still been around, you would have insisted that we all do together. After all, the reason we’d want to get vaccinated would be to get out and travel together – might as well do it at one time for the same reason. But Daniel thoroughly disapproves of the vaccine – not any particular maker, just the whole thing in general – and insists that everything will soon be revealed that it was all some sort of ploy, and that it will have all been utterly unnecessary to go through with it. So I find myself feeling like I have to sneak around and get this taken care of without even telling him about it, lest he express his further disapproval of my cowing to the powers that be. On the other hand, he has expressed a certain level of “your body, your choice” toward my attitude of wanting to get the vaccine, so maybe I shouldn’t feel quite so guilty about this… but I can’t seem to help it at the moment.
For what it’s worth, it’s a fairly efficient process: I can register online with no more than 30 minutes notice, and while when I arrive, there’s a line well out the door of the facility, it moves surprisingly fast, and the only reason I’m there for more than twenty minutes is because everyone is kept there for at least fifteen minutes for observation. Just to make sure there are no immediate adverse reactions. Quite efficient, really.
On the way back from the vaccination facility, I stop by our (I guess it still qualifies for the first person plural, since both Daniel and I have accounts there) Edward Jones agent with the insurance check that came in last Saturday. Might as well deposit it and get it working for us, I suppose.
It’s weird. We bought life insurance for you because of the need to have the house paid off. Were I to depart before the house was paid off, we figured your parents would most likely forgive whatever debt we had remaining on the house (and in any event, I was insured through my workplace for twice my salary, so there was that, too). However, were you gone before I was (however unlikely we thought that to be – and yet, here we are), there wasn’t so much family connection between borrower and lender, and I would most likely need to pay off the remaining loan. Of course, all that proved to be a moot point, what with your parents forgiving the loan early – to say nothing of having passed away years before.
But still, we continued to pay premiums on you for some years. It wasn’t a big expense – although once you passed the age of fifty, the premiums were about to go up by a factor of more than six, so we planned on letting it lapse with next year’s bill.
I’d commend you for your timing in this case, but I’d rather have you than the payout.
All these errands before were more or less unplanned, but at least they were accomplished quickly enough. The real reason I was home from the office today was to take Chompers to the vet. Even as I mentioned the plan yesterday to the folks, they proceeded to ask me if I was ready to put him down should the need arise. My sole response had more to do with whether I could actually be in the office with him in that case.
And unfortunately, since not everyone in the office has received both doses of the Covid vaccine, they aren’t ready for clients to actually come into the office. However, it turns out that this wasn’t to be much of a concern. According to her, we seem to be doing everything right, more or less. As long as he has an appetite, and remains, ah… regular (at least such that he’s not constantly doing it on the carpet – any misinterpretations of various whine cycles are probably still on us), there’s nothing particularly wrong with him, apart from his neurological condition that compels him to cross his back legs with every step.
In short, you’re not going to be seeing him for some time yet. I know you have Crispin, Canny, Rufus and Sir Silk to keep you company, so I doubt you’d be too concerned about where Chompers is yet. But rest assured, if the professionals say we’re doing all right, I’d like to hope you’d be pleased with the care we’ve taken of him… even though we’ve very little idea as to what we’re doing.
Now, while the vet’s appointment bit into the workday – and I’d warned the folks about it on Sunday – once Chompers was done, I decided to go to the office regardless. I had received you mom’s death certificate, after all, so I could send it to our attorney to determine how to contact her life insurance company and liquidate the last remaining annuity – so much bureaucracy to deal with their estates! Now I regret having left all that to you before (although I thought that was the logical approach, since these were your folks and it was your money – I know, I know, you insisted that it was ours at that point, but still, for me to get involved and interested seemed a bit… crass… at the time)
I also scanned a few pages from an illustrated book that I think might make for a good video – I’ll tell you the story about it at some point later – to send to Erin to see if she might be interested in coloring the pictures to be used as the visuals. It will be interesting to see her reaction to the pictures… once I get everything together. The scanner software seems to choke on the pictures if I try to rotate them upright, so I couldn’t send every page to her. But at least, she has a flavor of what we might be working with.
While I was wrapping things up (without ever actually turning on my computer, by the way – most of what I needed to do required the use of their scanner, so I was commandeering their computer), Mom asked me to keep an eye on Dad tomorrow. After that scare a week or so ago, he’s still not entirely back to what passes for normal, but she has to deal with a mammogram and bone density scan over the better part of the morning, so could I be there for him? I told her I’d probably be walking to work, so I might not be for the entire time she was gone, but I’d do my best to be there for most of it, and she seemed satisfied.
Not that I got absolutely no exercise out of the day, though. I’ve been planning to mow the lawn for the last few days, although it’s not the sort of activity I’m usually motivated for. But if I wait much longer, I’ll wind up with one of those little warnings hung on the front door about the length of our grass. The village at least gives us a warning first, so we’ve never actually been fined for not mowing in a timely fashion, but I have no desire to find out what the limits of their patience are, or how much they might charge us.
However, before I get the newly tuned-up machine out of our brand-new shed (yeah, so much new – wish you could see it, honey), I had to fill the tank, as it has been emptied of old gasoline as part of the tune-up. So that meant walking a couple of blocks down to the corner gas station to fill the jerry can, and bring it back to fill the tank. From there, it’s the usual walking back and forth as part of the ritual of cutting the grass that every suburban homeowner knows so well, so let’s just move on.
Speaking of rituals, you know about our habit of, after taking care of yardwork, heading out to 7-11 for a brace of Slurpees. Thing was, Daniel wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea (and ordinarily, he’d not only get a drink, but his whole dinner from there, since he’s always been a fan of their taquitos), claiming he just wasn’t hungry.
Okay, then. With that having been said, I figured the trip wasn’t worth it for just myself, and – since, unlike him, I was famished – I pulled the one deep dish pizza I’d managed to save from Jan’s purge of the deep freeze (in fairness, the rest of them had ‘best by’ dates in 2014 and 2015, whereas this one’s was in 2019, so she let it slide. Still, we lost nearly half a dozen of these due to them getting buried in an avalanche of other stuff in the chest – along with the fact that I’ve ever been the only one who really fancied them, and it takes an appetite to consume them), and pop it in the oven. There comes a point where, if Daniel gets hungry for something, he’s got to deal with that on his own.
At least at this point, we could settle down and spend some time together, although much of that was spent with him on his computer working on Lego simulations (which I prefer to some of the more political stuff he listens to) and me veejaying YouTube stuff. In other words, the evening was much like it was in the before time, when it was all three of us in the family room. Just without you. And thus it was, with a few hours’ nap before settling Chompers in for the night. So I guess life took its foot off the gas for that time, after all.
So now, I’m picking my way through the center of town en route to the office this morning, arranging my thoughts for this letter, and trying to figure out how to break everything down. Much as I’d prefer to keep each of these on a single topic, life doesn’t work that way all the time, and the separate thoughts that come to me aren’t always that significant as to fill several pages with narrative. Sometimes – most of the time -life is just a series of little things that you can’t focus on for all that long before having to move on to the next one.
Which is all I can do these days, with you gone.
Otherwise, I’d just drown.