BY SAVANAH HIPPERT
My Version of Marley and Me
Much of my childhood is a blur; but as you know, I was seven when mum and dad got divorced. When mum, CJ, and I were on our own and I had occasional visits with dad, you’d sometimes come into the conversation.
Dad couldn’t take care of you all by himself, so he brought you to the animal shelter to try to find a new loving family for you to spend the rest of your days with. He knew you were sick (we all did), but not too sick to find another home; leading you to a deep, painless sleep. All of this happened soon after the divorce. I didn’t find out about your departure until years later, in another random conversation with him.
That whole time, I was under the impression that you had found a new home. If I had known, I would’ve said goodbye; I would’ve saved something of yours; I’d tell you were a good dog, not the crazy animal everyone made you out to be.
You were quite the character, Jake, I’ll give you that. You’d run free off of the running leash outside in the backyard a lot. I get it now; you yearned to experience the unknown. I don’t recall someone taking you on a proper walk; mum and dad were constantly busy with work. Everyone said you were hyper, but it was your natural reaction of built up energy. So, props to you for being an adventurous pup; although, it was scary not knowing if we’d find you.
Remember the time in kindergarten when you accidentally scratched Olivia’s face at a sleepover? You were so thrilled to have a new friend! It’s okay, Olivia and I laugh about it now. I know you felt bad when she cried and ended up going home, you moped in your crate for hours.
After I found out what happened to you, I dreamt you resented me for not saying goodbye. The dream was a short, uneasy nightmare where I peered under my bed to discover all of my stuffed animals from years before. You morphed into one of them, and with glaring red eyes you snarled and bared your teeth at me. You lunged to bite me, but before anything could happen, I woke up.
I came to the conclusion that my mind was creating guilt on unprecedented actions and false scenarios, it couldn’t have been the way you felt.
Years later, I dreamt of you again. This dream took place in a park; like the first dream, this one was short. With shimmering white and black fur contrasting against the gloomy, cloudy day; you appeared and ran towards me. I reached down to share an embrace and immediately received hundreds of licks to my face. In my arms, calm and quiet, you started to drift into slumber. Licking my face one last time, you became still, no longer having a shimmer to you. Then, your body faded out of my arms and disappeared - I woke up.
I didn’t cry, I was happy and at peace. Thinking of that dream, I come to the conclusion that this was our goodbye. While some may not believe in loved-ones-lost visiting them in their dreams, I do. So, thank you.
Thank you for allowing me to have one last good memory.
Thank you for being my version of Marley and Me.
Thank you for being your hyper and crazy self. You made my young, little life incredibly interesting.
I want you to know one thing before I finish my letter: we chose you. Before mum and I brought you home, dad used to come home periodically with different dogs for the family. Each one didn’t feel right, they were either too stubborn or angry. In defeat, he’d always bring them back. That all changed when mum and I were driving through town and we saw a ‘puppies for free’ sign in someone’s driveway. Your mum was grey and white speckled with one blue and one green eye. But you stood out even more being the only white puppy. You had black on your ears that came down around your eyes, and as easy as it sounds, we just took you home and that’s where you belonged.
I’ve always said that when I go to heaven, I desire to be greeted by dogs in a field of flowers. When that day does come, I know you’ll be front and center, excitedly waiting to lick my face again.
Until then, I hope to dream of you soon.
Stay crazy my pup,
Your best friend