We’re back to the routine of 6:30 am phone calls before she goes off to work, late morning calls when I ask her how her morning is going, an afternoon call when I ask how her afternoon is, the six pm call when she gets home and is settled in, and the last call of the night when I “tuck her in.” In between there could be another couple of calls just because we miss each other.

She fills me on the stresses of her day, or of how the puppies are behaving (or misbehaving), and it’s all as it should be. Hank and Sam don’t seem to be obviously missing me, and I’m happy with that. It means that the time I spent ensuring she spent enough time with them (Sam, specifically, since she was working basically every day and could not spend the time with Sam that I could and was), has been accomplished satisfactorily. I had to make sure that my method of working with Sam translated over effectively, and it seems it has. This is no small thing, and I am pleased. Yet I miss them, and the puppy, enormously.

This makes me think of something that happened back when Sam was just four months old.

By that age, she had just gotten tall enough and curious enough, to start checking out the table and counter tops. She would jump and place her paws on either surface, and we would tell her No, and Off! It was no big deal, and was to be expected, and we dealt with it as it happened.

One lovely Saturday morning, which is usually when I let my sweetie sleep in, because she worked all week and deserved to sleep in, I was up early as usual (6 am) with the puppies. I let them out for their bathroom duties and brought them back in, made coffee, fed them, played with them, then put Hank out into the run, and left Sam in the kitchen with the baby gate up. All as per usual. It was about 8 am by that time.

I went to check my email and facebook. I was gone maybe 15 minutes. When I returned to the kitchen, I immediately smelled gas (the stove is a natural gas stove). I froze momentarily, and then glanced over, to see that the stove dial had been bumped. Obviously Sam, who was at that moment hopping up and down happily to see me, had jumped to check out the stove top, and had knocked the dial so the stove was now emitting gas. The room was filled with the odour.

My heart immediately began pounding, and I very carefully stepped over the baby gate, tiptoed over to the stove, with Sam bouncing at my side, and turned the dial to off. I then tiptoed to the back door, ever so carefully opened the screen door, and took Sam to the dog pen. I then tiptoed back into the house, leaving the screen door open for ventilation, and went to the bedroom.

All this time I was very conscious of having to be careful to not create any kind of spark. I did not pick Sam up, because there may have been a spark from her fur against my sweater, static electricity. I made sure not to slam the screen door and inadvertantly create a spark. All this time I was shaking with fear.

When I got to the bedroom, I gently placed my hand on my sweetie’s shoulder, and leaned down to whisper, “Wake up, honey, but don’t move.”

She was very good. She opened her eyes, didn’t move, and asked, “What’s wrong?”

I told her what the situation was, and whispered calmly, oh so calmly, “Just come out the front door with me.” (She was sleeping in jammie pants, so don’t think she wasn’t prepared!)

She came carefully outside with me, and we left the door open for more ventilation, and then we went back around to the backyard…and just looked at each other.

“So…now what?” I asked (my heart was still pounding and I couldn’t seem to breathe right).

“I’ll be right back,” she said. “Stay here.”

And I stood there in the backyard frozen as she went back in through the back door, opened windows, started the fan going in the livingroom, and then came back out. I was, to be honest, horrified, that she had gone back in and done these things, but she was perfectly fine with it. Someone has to do it, she told me. And I supposed she was right, but that someone was not going to be me. I have a horrible, disabling fear about things like gas leaks.

We then stood outside for half an hour. Waiting for the gas to dissipate. It was a pleasantly cool morning. We joked about hobbling Sam so she couldn’t do a repeat performance. And seriously discussed how she must never be left alone in the kitchen, so a repeat performance did not occur.

And then she went back in, pronounced all to be well, and we got on with our day.

But trust me, after that morning, Samantha was never left unsupervised in the kitchen. I still remember how scared I was, and how I moved so very, very carefully. And how the smell of gas overwhelmed my senses, and I almost felt as though I could see it and feel it. I still question my moves, not going to my sweetie right away, but removing the potential for sparks first. I think I did well, but I now understand how people can second guess themselves after a crisis has passed.

I don’t mind waking up early. But I don’t ever want that kind of early morning wake up call again.