I’m supposed to be getting back to work today, but I’ve been avoiding my office. It’s just too hard to be in here without my faithful companion and coworker, Cheyenne. I look for her everywhere, forgetting she’s no longer here.
We took off to Mt. Pleasant over the weekend. I didn’t want to be here in this house, with all the obvious signs that she’s not here. We had cancelled a trip to Chicago in August because we didn’t want to leave Chey behind while she was sick. Her passing right before school started was really tough on my son, too. We didn’t want his summer to end in such a way, so we took off and stayed a night at a hotel with an indoor pool. We spent some time together as a family and tried to focus on having some fun for a while. Still, we thought of Cheyenne several times. When we got there, our first thought was to call Dad and check on Chey; she would always stay with Grandpa when we went away for a day or two. But, this time there wasn’t anyone to check on. We still called Dad, though.
Yesterday was the first day of school for my son, so it was my first day home alone. My husband and I walked our son to school because there was just too much traffic on the first day. It was a busy morning, too busy to really think about being left alone. Then my husband left for work, and I was alone. I sat at the kitchen table for a few minutes thinking about how to keep busy. I decided to go grocery shopping, and I took a very long time doing it. When I got home and opened the door, I still half expected her to be there. She would have been excited that I was back, and she would have jumped up to hug me. Then she would have followed me outside to inspect the bags while I brought them in. But, she wasn’t there. And she wasn’t there after dinner last night, when I went to give her the leftover mac n’ cheese that she so loved.
When everyone left this morning, I went back to bed. I honestly have been exhausted. My allergies are really acting up. I can barely breathe through my nose, and my throat is really sore, but I probably could have faced the day. I just wasn’t ready. So, I fell back to sleep and slept really hard, which I have been since Chey passed. I know she must be coming to me in my dreams, but I’m not remembering them.
My son had a dream about Cheyenne the night before last, the night before school started. I had tucked him in, and he began to get upset about losing Chey and now having to start school and homework, etc. He didn’t know if he could face the day because he was just so sad about losing her. I told him that school might be a good distraction right now. (He knew I was having a hard time being left home by myself – without her.) I told him that she wouldn’t want him to be sad, that she loved him so very much and would want him to move to the next thing in his life, which in this case was seeing his friends again. I told him that she would always be with him, watching over him. As much as he knew she was with him, he cried that it wasn’t the same. He couldn’t hold her or pet her. He couldn’t love her in the same way. That night, Cheyenne came to him in a dream.
“She was so real, Mom. She had her pink collar on, and her fur was all clean, silky and black. Like she was younger or something. And she wasn’t see through, either. I could pet her and hold her. I hugged her, and she was so soft. It was like she wanted me to know she was watching over me.”
I cried tears of joy knowing he had experienced a true visitation from Cheyenne.
“Do you think I had the dream because we talked about her before bed,” he asked me.
Those who might not know better could think it was just coincidence, but I had already felt her there. When I was talking with him before bed, I felt Cheyenne comforting both of us and tell me what she wanted me to express to my son. So, I told him what I knew. Cheyenne was there when we talked before bed, and she came to him for real in his dream. Such an overwhelming sense of peace washed over my son, and he went to his first day of school missing our beloved Cheyenne but knowing in truth that she was with him. He had a great day.
Now, I need to listen to my own advice. I’m definitely avoiding the day, but Cheyenne would want me to move on with the next thing in my life. I can’t stare into my cup of tea or spend way too long in the shower any more today; it’s time to work. Even the wrapper of my Halls throat drop is telling me to “March forward!” Huh, how cool is that? There are actually positive little sayings on the wrapper! Apparently, I need a pep talk!
Thank you so very much to those of you who have sent love and prayers to Cheyenne and my family during this time. It did make a difference. We got about six extra weeks with her that we didn’t expect to have. For a minute there, we actually hoped her cancer may go into remission; the medicine was working like some sort of magic. But, the cancer fought back hard and took her down. In a matter of hours, her body became extremely weak. My husband had to carry her into the vet’s office, though I’m not exactly sure how much of that was physical weakness and how much was knowing what was coming. She was a smart girl. She knew when it was time, but nothing could have made her want to leave us. At one point, Cheyenne began to act like she was crying and hugged my son. We were all heartbroken … and very much still are.
When it was time so say goodbye, my husband took my son for a walk while I stayed with Chey. She was sad and afraid. I took her head in my hands and told her how much I love her. I thanked her for fighting to stay, for watching over and protecting us these years.
She was supposed to be my son’s dog. We bought her as a gift for his second birthday. She loved him, of course, but anybody who ever met her could easily see she was mine. I couldn’t leave a room without her. Even if I went into the bathroom, she would sit right on the other side of the door (I mean leaning against the other side, as close as she could possibly get). If I stopped too fast, she would run into me. When I turned around, I took a wide turn to account for where I knew she would be. I tended to walk with one hand down as she was perfect height for me to touch her head. When I wasn’t home, she would howl and pace, waiting for my return. I never saw this because she didn’t do it when I was home. And she was always excited when I returned. Sometimes my husband would get home from his day before me, and she would look around him as if to ask, “Is Mom with you?” And then she would look around like he was hiding me somewhere. There are so many stories. Cheyenne made me feel special and loved, just as she was special and loved.
She’s not here to follow me around anymore. When I turn around, there’s only an empty space behind me. Right now as I type, I am painfully aware that my beloved dog is no longer snoring behind my chair. When I leave to pick up my son from school later today, Cheyenne will not be there expecting a ride in the car. Picking up my son at school was one of her most favorite things to do.
As Cheyenne’s eyes met mine for the last time, I felt her love and faith that it would be okay. She stared into my eyes like I was her lifeline, and I repeated over and over that I loved her and not to be afraid. She calmed and took her last breath. And then I said goodbye. I was the last thing she saw in this world. As hard as it was to watch my sweet girl die, I knew it would give her peace that I was there. And, as much as I know she is still with me in spirit, my heart aches for her. The absence of Cheyenne in our lives has left quite a big hole, one that right now feels like it will never be filled. But, as anyone who’s experienced loss knows, it will get better. The hole will get smaller, and the love we have for her will always be there.
Now my sinuses are stuffed, tears are running down my face, and the front of my shirt is all wet from said tears. I’m going to have to search for some tissues, but I needed this. I needed to write. Thank you for being my therapy today.
P.S. The picture above is of Cheyenne and my little boy. She didn’t like cameras, so it was difficult to get photos. Since she’s not hiding under a table, this is actually a pretty good picture of her.
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