What Can Anyone Say?

I mean honestly you guys, what can anyone say these days?

I don’t want to talk about Covid. I’m sick of Covid.

But when I opened my email to write about my dog Peanut and his escapades on our flight to California (more on that in a minute), my daughter the ICU nurse, texted me.

JULIE: I’m scared. And sad. My sixty-eight year old patient with Covid is so sweet but he is also super sick. I spent a lot of time holding his hand and watching him breathe.

ME: He’s lucky to have your soft hand to hold.

JULIE: my gloved hand.

And that made me sad.

Years ago, when I became a nurse I wanted to help people feel a little better when they were at their worst.

I left nursing for lots of reasons. Consistency was one of them. As a nurse, you must give the right people the right meds, one-hundred percent of the time. Not ninety percent. Not ninety five percent. Every. Single. Time. I am not that person.

I learned a lot in nursing school that I still use. We learned about the therapeutic use of touch. How non-sexual touch can ease pain, make people feel less alone, soothe their anxiety. As a nurse, I held hands, smoothed foreheads, patted backs.

There is none of that happening outside of our bubbles in the time of Covid. We can’t feel pulse points, comfort with a quick touch, let our cells say hello, I don’t know if that’s a thing but I like the idea of it.

It’s hard not to be sad and scared these days.

This is where Peanut and our airplane ride comes in. Airplane travel is new to Peanut but I was sure we could get to California without drama.This is what we call foreshadowing.

An hour into a turbulent flight, that had people (me) looking for the barf bag in the seat back pocket, I checked on Peanut. There, under the seat in front of me was the empty pet carrier bag. Flat. Dogless. Peanut had escaped.

I snapped to attention. I knew there was another dog on the plane and Peanut does not do well with other dogs. Before long Peanut was bound to sniff out the other dog and we would become a Twitter video about pet abuse and that would be the end of our jetsetter life.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of blond fur racing down the aisle toward the back of the plane. I stood and through my mask shouted at a woman behind me and across the aisle, “That’s my dog. Grab him!” The plane rolled a bit and I braced against my seat.

Peanut was too quick for that woman, but not too nimble for a starkly thin, bearded man who stretched his arms out like a hinged yardstick and scooped him up. Peanut became a floppy wash cloth in his grasp. I suspect he was relieved to be captured.

The man smiled. I saw it in his eyes, above his mask. He brought Peanut close to his face and brushed his temple against Peanut’s fur. He handed Peanut off to the woman across from him and she snuggled him too. The college student seated behind me collected my fluffy, nervous guy next. Despite having just pulled an Alcatraz escape, the boy told my doggo that he was a good boy, then he smoothed Peanut’s hair out of his eyes and patted his back.

No one was mad. No one looked scared. No one looked sad. They all looked happy to be touching a live, warm scoundrel. I confess, the whole thing had me swallowing hard and trying not to cry in gratitude but also, in love.

Back in my arms, I pretended to scold Peanut. I slid into my seat feeling like I had as a nurse,  that through illness, rough air, and panic, sometimes we can be comforted by something that bridges our gaps; a touch, a snuggle, the fur of a stranger’s dog.

I’m hoping that through the gloved hand of my daughter, her patient felt the comfort of another person who cares, despite the latex between them. Our cells taking comfort where they can.

[Tweet “At least, I hope that’s true.”]


I wrote a bit more about my family of nurses and how to use worry. You can listen to me read it here. 

Thank you to Samantha Hoffman – she edits all my posts.

Simone Dalmeri Took this photo


  1. Katie on November 24, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Loved this, Ann! Here’s to sharing all the warm puppy snuggles with friends, family, and strangers alike. If anything can bring comfort at this time, that can. 🙂

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Katie! Peanut is an essential worker. hahah

  2. Sylvia on November 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    I think the saddest part of all of this is that families cannot be by their loved ones bedside, to hold the hand of their ill relatives. Blessings to your daughter, and all the caregivers, who are taking on the role of those missing.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      It’s so very sad. I can’t imagine not being with my parents when they died. Thank you, I do think the nurses as usual will comfort and save us all. The doctors too, they must be exhausted.
      Thank you for writing. 🙂

  3. Cheryl Hart on November 30, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    This story is just what I needed today. Thank you. <3

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      Your comment is what I needed 🙂
      Thank you!

  4. Grandma Lenore on November 30, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    A beautiful beginning to my day, Dr. Garvin.

    Hugs ….(in PPE gear)

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      I think of you most days and I’m so happy we met when we did.
      Much love to you and Burt

  5. Carol on November 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Oh Ann I loved your story, loved that Peanut brought such comfort ! A dog is just love. I cherish my dog Coco – she is what makes life still o.k. and fun. And your daughter holding her patient’s hand -also love. Love is what we need – and a touch, a hug missed is sad. Better days are coming….

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:50 pm

      Yes, agreed. We all need each other. I think it’s our job on earth.
      Thanks for writing, Carol. xo

  6. denise on November 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Beautiful moment of kindness.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      This is you every day. 🙂

  7. Beth on November 30, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    I was crying in my coffee. My dog has gotten so many hugs from me. It helps my emotions through all the stuff 2020 throwing at the world.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Awww Beth. I get it.
      I can’t imagine all of this without my doggo.
      Thank you for writing. 🙂

  8. Bonnie on November 30, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing these stories.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      You are so welcome. It’s a pleasure.

  9. Jacqueline on November 30, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    We are all at a human touch deficit. Thank god for animals who offer us the gift of mutual comfort. and thank god for nurses.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Yes, thank God for both!

  10. Kate on November 30, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Wish I was on that plane!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      Right, well, I think Peanut wanted off. hahaha.Thank God we didn’t go viral

  11. Anji on November 30, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for your beautiful presence in this world!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you for noticing me and joining in. Much love,

  12. Kathy Colaizzi on November 30, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Your comments about touching really touched me. I hope that man pulls through. Enjoy all your interactions with your very spirited fur baby!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you Kathy. I think he did pull through. I hope we all do.

  13. VICTORIA COLLE on November 30, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Heartwarming! Thank you.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      You are so welcome. Plus, your email name says it all.

  14. Leah on November 30, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    I love that.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      I’m glad you do. This is a tough time but we do have each other.

  15. Joan Davis on November 30, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    You remind me how words can reach out and touch us through all the miles, cyberspace and Covid-19 restrictions. I’m sharing this with others I love–instead of a dog, it will be a story that connects us. With appreciation for such a good way to start out the week.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you for these words. This is what I hope for when I write. To connect and help people feel human.

  16. Dana McNeely on November 30, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for the sweet moment.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      You are so welcome. I needed it. 🙂

  17. Brenda Gilliam on November 30, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    In the midst of Cyber Monday emails, your message popped up. It was just what I needed this morning! I can’t wait to touch and hug as in the past! Thank you!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 4:21 pm

      Oh Geez, I probably should not have sent it out on Cyber Monday. I”m so clueless. But, thank you for reading and writing. I really, really appreciate it.

  18. Ekta Garg on November 30, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, Ann, how I miss chatting with you in person!! Was so looking forward to that at the next Writers’ Institute. :< Maybe someday…

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      I miss that too AND WE ARE SO CLOSE.
      Let’s make that happen soon. A mask and a little distance.

  19. Kathleen Bylsma on November 30, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Good on your daughter for maintaining in this odious time….So heartbreaking….thanks to Peanut for his escape and chance to comfort so many….I’m alone, having lost my dog to cancer….I miss him and my family….

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 4:56 pm

      Oh Kathleen,
      If I could, I’d walk peanut over to you for a snuggle.
      Much love,

  20. Rebel Sowell on November 30, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    A beautiful story by a beautiful being. I bet your daughter is as beautiful as her mom. Thanks for making others feel better.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      Takes one to know one, Beauty woman. You are the same through and through.
      Thank you for continuing to support me.


  21. Deb Cleveland on November 30, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Ann. This is such a strange time. I feel myself becoming so weary but not knowing what exactly is making me so. I can’t pinpoint one thing, just a lot of different things, like you mentioned, the lack of touch, the lack of an unmasked smile, the fear that is now constantly with us, the every day death toll that follows us around like this great big hovering, ugly cloud. Yet, it takes so little to ‘right’ our day, like a pup on the loose running down the aisle of an airplane. Kudos to Peanut.

    • Diana McDowell on November 30, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Lovely and touching story. Thanks for sharing.

      • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 5:44 pm

        You are so welcome, Diana

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 5:38 pm

      Yes, you said it in a nutshell. So weary and why? I can’t find my motor, if that makes sense. So I understand. The only thing I can do is write.
      I’m so glad you are reading. It gives me purpose.

      • Patty Wilkinson on December 1, 2020 at 1:32 am

        Ann, I love the “I can’t find my motor” comment. That is exactly how it is for me as well.

  22. RHONDA Strong GILMOUR on November 30, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Such a lovely story! Thanks for sharing this. Pats to Peanut.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      Pats back to you, in a friendly non-threatening supportive way. 🙂
      Thank you!!

  23. Ann M Imig on November 30, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    This warmed my heart. Thanks, Ann. And thank you to your daughter <3

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 7:03 pm

      Your heart is pretty toasty so that is a big job to warm it. I will tell Julie. 🙂

  24. Brenda Ploegstra on November 30, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Oh Ann, even holding a gloved hand brings comfort, just to know someone is there and cares. My dear friend went into the hospital and a CT revealed metastatic cancer. I wanted so much to be with her but couldn’t. Fortunately a friend from church is a doctor and he was with her when she was told she only had days to live. She chose to go home on hospice so her 2 dogs and I were able to be with her until the end. Tell your daughter that any word or touch is a blessing. God bless her!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 7:03 pm

      Oh I’m so very sorry for the stunningly sad news. What a wonderful friend you are. She was so very lucky. I will tell my daughter
      My love to you,

  25. Bonnie K. on November 30, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    Everyone needed a hug. Your dog escaped for a reason. Hugs.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      He knew. 🙂

  26. Colleen on November 30, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Another lovely story, Ann. Thanks for sharing! Our pandemic pets — two kittens — have brightened our days so much. I’m glad Peanut was able to bring the same joy to your fellow travelers that our kittens have brought to ours.

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks Colleen!! It’s so true. Our pets are keeping us loved. 🙂

  27. Kathleen Conklin on November 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Such a delightful story during such a tough time. Reminded me of the time that my friend Brian fell asleep with his King Charles Cavalier on his lap during a flight from NY to LA.

    Charlie jumped down, ran to the first class section and proceeded to have diarrhea in the aisle. Brian’s wife, who had given Brian responsibility while she took a nap, was mortified!

    Thank you to your daughter!

    • Ann Garvin on November 30, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      hahaha oh noooo that’s terrible. So glad that wasn’t me. I would curl up in mortification.
      Thanks for the laugh.

  28. Patty Wilkinson on December 1, 2020 at 1:27 am

    What a wonderful story, Ann. I know I am one of those people that really misses hugging my friends, seeing someone’s beautiful smile, connecting human to human. I feed off of other people, so I certainly have been out of sorts since July, when my family, who was quarantining with me, returned to their own homes. I’m restless at night, even started grinding my teeth! Maybe I need to get a Peanut!

    • Ann Garvin on December 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      I feel the same. I love people and I SO understand feeling restless, needing connection and stress coming out in odd ways.
      You need a Peanut or a version of. I support this.
      xo Glad you are here,

  29. Sandra Margolese on December 2, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    So, I couldn’t type a reply immediately after reading this story because there were too many tears clouding my vision. Today, at the very thought of re-reading it, the tears started again. Why? Just like you, “Kindness makes me cry.” I’m probably misquoting you, but I remember you said something along those lines a while back, and life made more sense after hearing that. The kindness shown by your daughter through the touch of her gloved hand, and the genuine love Peanut showed to strangers…here I go again with the tears. This world is a better place because of all of you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. The first thing I’m doing once I move out of this rental property is getting a dog. In the meantime, I’ll be cherishing your stories of Peanut and his adventures!

    • Ann Garvin on December 2, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      Oh Sandra,
      You are such a love. I’m so glad we are connected. And, yes. Kindness unravels me. I’m happy this touched you. Please send pics of your doggo ❤️❤️❤️

  30. Brenda Peterson on December 11, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    All these nurses need to line up so we can all give them hugs when it’s safe! Bless them all and may God keep them and all of us safe. Your story of Peanut made me smile, as most stories of pets do. I have my ‘co-worker’ in my office most of the time and while he doesn’t actually do a lot of work, he’s there when I need a kiss and to pet his furry head. Best co-worker I’ve ever had!

    • Ann Garvin on December 24, 2020 at 9:31 pm

      Best co-worker ever!! They really should try and get more done though. hahaha

  31. Billie McCoy on February 23, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    This made me cry, I am a hugger. I love to pat people’s arms or backs. I love to love on them. Young, old, fat, thin, angry, happy, doesn’t matter. In my family when you want a hug you say give me some “loves”. This has been the hardest thing for me during Covid-19. My cells need to say hello. Great job, sister!

    • Ann Garvin on February 23, 2021 at 10:45 pm

      Give me some loves. That is the best. I hope we can all say that in person soon.
      Thank you for sharing that.

  32. Tara Cline on July 3, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Dogs bring so much meaning to our lives. We got our dog one week before everything shut down. It was great timing. It gave us something to look forward to every day and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. My son, 16 at the time, would have stayed in bed all day and probably never came out of his room without the dog.

    • Ann Garvin on September 30, 2021 at 9:04 pm

      I’m with you. We don’t deserve them and we definitely underestimate them. But, boy do we love the.

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