When the phone rings—“rings” hardly describes what phones do now—I see who it is and answer,”Hi Jim, Joann, whichever one of you, so glad you called.”
“It’s Joann.” These neighbors of ours for decades, whether I was living in the family beach house or not, have become near and dear since we relocated to the West Coast. She’s calling with a request.
These are friends who count, a couple in our close-knit group of six. We share meals and patio events, drinks and philosophies, neighborhood green space, and love, for each other and for our pets.
We have been through a lot, and that continues. Now we are all aging together. We have all lost pets, had to say goodbye ready-or-not. And this call asks me to show up tomorrow morning, that’s today, to stay with Jesse, their ailing senior rescue beagle. J & J are well-aware of the nature of their attachment to Jesse, acknowledging that he is their baby, and unapologetic.
They lost their lab several years ago, the chocolate member of this mutt-and-Jeff duo that frolicked and lazed in the easement between our two houses: Sprig and Jesse. Our dog and sundry friends’ canines joined them in a happy tumble of paws and chewed tennis balls.
Jesse remains, bi-weekly chemo treatments for cancer notwithstanding. And here we are together on this glorious Tuesday, his sonorous breathing background music to my drafting.
He has finally settled because—his beloved are not here. When they left for a doctor’s appointment that will take hours, he seemed sanguine, unfazed. Then he realized they were actually…gone, as in, not anywhere in this house.
Then he followed me around as I narrated and reassured, “I’m making another cup of coffee; I’m getting ice water. It’ll be okay, Jesse. They’ll be back soon. Get comfortable, little guy.“ Disbelieving, he perched at the top of the stairs pointing balefully with his gray muzzle.
Trips outside to scout, woebegone, accusatory looks when the effort to find his “peeps” failed, and finally sleep, because what else is left?
What I know for sure is that he is not alone in feeling that a part of him is missing. His parents are surely experiencing the same absence. Soon, though, the family will be together again.
Then I will walk my own dog on the beach, thankful to be welcomed home.