“Heidi, can you meet at the end of the day”, an incoming text read.
“Of Course, is everything ok?”
“Yes, I actually have amazing news”, she typed in all caps.
Her message was actually worrisome. The last number of months had been extremely difficult for my friend after tragically losing someone she loved.
Overwhelming sadness and unpredictable anger consumed her most days. Yet, lately, I’d noticed she’d started covering up her sorrow with a happy hysteria. I worried the combination of heartache, frustration, and exhaustion was taking its toll on her.
Arriving at the restaurant, I was hesitant but pleasantly surprised to see sparkling wine on the table and my excited friend waiting. She actually seemed more like her old self.
The moment I sat down she couldn’t hold the news in anymore and shrieked, “I got a promotion at work!”
“Congratulations”, I screamed and enthusiastically raising my glass. I was thrilled to hear she finally had some good news in her life.
For the next hour, we chatted about her new position and future plans. She seemed genuinely happy.
Yet, after a visit to the ladies’ room the all familiar somber, sad and grieving friend returned. The evening was turning more into of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde flick than a girlfriend get together.
“Did something happen”, I asked.
“No, nothing happened. But I should feel ecstatic. I just don’t understand. It seems like no matter how hard I’m trying to move on and have fun again, sadness keeps creeping back in.
My heart ached for her. I knew this agony all too well and felt it was time for me to share a story with her.
When my kids were much younger, I told her, we owned a beautiful English Bull Dog we called Chansey. Our youngest son, Haydn had named her after a Pokémon character.
Her stature and bark could be intimidating, but in reality, she was a big old teddy bear. We adored and loved her.
When Chansey was three our family decided to put a swimming pool in the backyard.
From the moment they broke ground to the days that followed, we all watched from behind a construction fence like enthusiastic spectators at the zoo. It wasn’t long before the pool was starting to take shape.
Three weeks later the safety fence came down and I received a call at work that the pool was finished and officially open.
It felt like Christmas morning! We were all dizzy with excitement to take the inaugural swim.
As we arrived home, we all ran in separate directions like a mad flurry of chaos. Mike dashed into the kitchen to get dinner started. The boys ran to the basement feverishly in search of their new pool toys and I ran upstairs to grab bathing suits and towels.
Digging around the boy’s dresser drawers, I could hear Mike yelling for the dog downstairs.
I didn’t think much of it and continued rustling through bedroom drawers for suits.
Then again, I heard Mike calling, “Chansey…Chansey…CHANSEY”, his tone seemed a little more serious now.
A little worried, I ran downstairs to investigate what all the hollering was about.
“I can’t find Chansey”, Mike frantically said, as we locked eyes.
“OMG, you don’t think she got outside do you?”
Mike’s complexion turned pale white. “She can’t swim”, he gasped and sprinted out the back door towards the pool.
I just stood there frozen in my tracks. Praying Mike would find her wandering around the yard.
Then my worst fear came true.
“God NOOOOOO”, Mike screamed.
A splash echoed throughout the yard as Mike dove to the bottom of the pool.
Chansey was gone.
We closed the pool the next day. We never swam in it that season.
The weeks that followed Chansey’s death were heartbreaking.
We missed everything about our beloved Chansey. Her excitement when we arrived home. Her silly playfulness and even her deathly farts.
Our home felt sad, quiet and terribly unhappy.
Desperate for all of us to feel better, we impulsively purchased a pup and called her Emily.
The first few days were fun. It felt great to have a dog in the house again.
Yet, as the weeks passed, sadness re-emerged and our feelings towards Emily changed.
It didn’t matter how hard we tried to love her. She was a band-aide covering up what we didn’t want to feel.
We didn’t want another dog. We missed and wanted Chansey back.
Eventually, we knew what we needed to do and found a wonderful new family for Emily. It broke our hearts to give her away, but we knew it was the right decision.
The problem with placing a band-aid on a wound is it doesn’t heal when it’s always hidden away. Wounds need time and to be out in the open air for a scab to form and the healing process to take place.
It took us two years to heal before we were ready to adopt another dog.
Now it’s been eleven years since we brought our Bulldoggie, Abby home. A few years later, Hailey, a mixed breed joined our family.
Two amazing dogs we may never have met if we didn’t realize we were trying to cover up our grief with a quick fix.
Now sitting in the restaurant, I suggested to my friend that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. The loss of a loved one is like a tattoo on the heart. Permanent. Forever.
Grief, however, is not.
Don’t postpone, deny, cover up or run from it. Allow it and be with it. The sooner you accept it, the sooner it will pass.
It really will come to an end. It will just take time.
Written by Positive People Army Founder – Heidi Allen
If you like this story you will love “A Wink From the Universe”
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