In Spite of Isolation

Early in 2020, with news of a novel Corona virus, we were reminded that the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people a century ago. We had no idea what was ahead. Masks, hand washing, sanitizer, hospitals filled beyond capacity, respirators, disagreement over origin and treatment, death counts, quarantine and isolation.

I have had dogs much of my adult life. My last one passed away late in 2018 at nearly 20 years. She was blind, deaf and needed a great deal of support.

I was sick most of that year and even with my ailments, I cared for her. But I knew that my dog Mom days were probably over. I shouldn’t take on the responsibility at age 71. Done. Decided. No more dogs.

But I couldn’t help taking an occasional peek at rescue websites. Occasional became daily. In late February, there was the sweetest little Cavalier King Charles mix. I couldn’t stop looking at her. After a hasty 2-hr. drive to turn in the first application for her, I had a new dog. We fell in love immediately. I renamed her Penny because she was small and copper colored. But I really wasn’t sure if I’d made a mistake.

COVID cases and concerns spiked. My oldest, who lives in a special needs group home, was quarantined. No more visiting her or her me. Devastating.

My other three adult children talked with me. They wanted me to stay home, except for dog walks. They would help me with groceries and other needs. I agreed, not because I was so concerned about myself, but because of the intensity of their requests. As it turned out, systems fell quickly into place to support the quarantine lifestyle. Curbside groceries and wine, Amazon for anything else.

I was never alone. Penny was my constant companion on curbside pickups and long walks. I began to recognize other walkers. At first, we might nod. Then after seeing each other often, we began to wave or say hello. Then we might stop and talk about the weather, our kids or dogs. They were a diverse collection that I’d have passed by under other circumstances, not even looking at them. If I didn’t see one for a few days, I would worry that they were sick, or caring for a sick family member. When I saw them again, we’d talk about where they had been. I’d let them know they were missed.

Many times, my eyes would fill with tears when we went our own ways after a chat. I love these people! We have so much in common. We like breathing fresh air, we enjoy the changes of seasons or different times of day, and we’re thankful for all that we have, including each other, in spite of or because of a pandemic.

It is strange how isolation has opened my world. Strangers are now virtually embraced friends. I’m grateful too for old friends who come by to bring little gifts -- something from their grocery pickup, or a plant, book or bag of dog treats. For me, these months have been filled with kindness and good will. And I know now that adopting Penny was not any kind of mistake. I feel like God and the Universe decided she and I needed to be together and made it happen. She is perfect! She thinks I am too.