Missy and Me

Missy and Me

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Missy and Me

I sold my bike to a friend in my sixth-grade class when we moved from Oklahoma. I planned to buy a new one in California when we got settled, but that never happened. The house we bought in San Diego was near a busy highway, outside of town, and I wasn’t allowed to ride there, even if I had wanted to.

Instead I spent my bike money on Missy, a cuddly, brown-eyed cocker spaniel puppy. It was love at first sight. The other puppies at the kennel hopped all over each other, but Missy walked straight up to me and gently licked my hand with her pink tongue. When I picked her up, she looked at me with those big, sad eyes, and I was hooked.

I missed my friends in Oklahoma. I wrote to all of them every week. The kids in my new school made fun of my Southern accent. One red-haired girl named Melissa mimicked me every time I spoke. She showed off by arguing with the school bus driver and using swear words. When I heard him call her “missy,” I felt like changing my puppy’s name.

In those days, my only friend was my dog. Every day, I spent hours training her and brushing her blond, wavy coat. Within a few weeks, she was house trained. At night, she slept curled up in my bed. In the morning, she licked my face to let me know she was awake and wanted to go outside.

One morning when she was six months old, I was dressing for school when I heard screeching brakes and a yelp. I ran down our driveway to see a huge truck pulled over to the side of the highway and the limp body of Missy lying in the ditch. “You hit my dog!” I screamed at the driver. I jumped into the ditch and picked up Missy’s lifeless body. “Wake up, wake up!” I yelled at her.

My parents thanked the man for stopping. “The dog ran out right in front of me,” he said. “I tried to stop.” I knew he meant it, but all I could do was cry.

I carried Missy into the house and wrapped her in her favorite blanket. I rocked her and cried, hoping she would wake up, but she never did.

Before my dad went to work, we dug a little grave and buried her. The three of us held hands, and my dad thanked God for giving us Missy. Then he prayed to God, asking for him to send me new friends here in California. My dad ended his prayer by thanking God for the joy Missy had brought to my life. But I didn’t feel thankful. The thoughts just went around and around in my head. Why hadn’t God protected her? Why hadn’t he kept her from running out on the highway? He knew how lonely I was. Why had he taken my only friend away?

For weeks, I cried myself to sleep. I woke up every morning to the bad dream that was my reality— Missy was gone. Classes, teachers, homework and weekends all blurred together through my tears. I tried to concentrate on my schoolwork, but all I could think about was Missy. My parents offered to buy me another dog, but I didn’t want just any dog. I wanted Missy. Nothing else mattered anymore.

One day, my gym teacher gave me a hall pass and told me to go to see the vice principal. I must be in trouble if I’m being sent to Mrs. Stevens’s office, I thought.

Mrs. Stevens asked me to sit down. In a gentle voice, she said, “You must be wondering why I called you in. Your teachers are concerned about you. They have seen you crying in class. Do you want to talk about it?”

I began sobbing so violently that I couldn’t speak. She handed me a box of tissues. Finally I choked out, “My dog got run over.” We talked for the whole gym period. When the bell rang, Mrs. Stevens gave me a little notebook.

“Sometimes it helps when you write down your feelings,” she said. “Be honest. You don’t have to ever show it to anyone—it’s just for you. It may help you decide what you are learning about life and death.” She smiled and led me to the door with her arm around my shoulder.

For the next week, I did what she said, spilling out all my sadness and anger. I wrote to God about letting Missy die. I wrote about my parents moving to this awful place. I wrote about Melissa and the kids who hurt my feelings. I even wrote to Missy: “I loved you so much. Why were you so stupid? I taught you not to go near the highway! Now you are gone forever. Forever. Things will never be the same. Never.”

When I couldn’t write any more, I finally closed my notebook and wept. I cried and cried. I cried because things never would be the same, because Missy wasn’t coming back and because I knew we weren’t going to move back to Oklahoma. When I was finished crying, there was nothing else to do. I decided I would just have to make the best of it.

As difficult as it was, Missy and her death helped me to grow up that year. God answered my dad’s prayer and gave me new friends to fill my loneliness. I finally stopped missing all my old friends. My time was filled with school and activities instead of just memories. I was surprised that these friends became just as special as the ones that I had left behind in Oklahoma. My heart was starting to heal.

Even though I still believe that no other dog could ever take Missy’s place in my heart, maybe one of these days I’ll let my parents buy me another dog. Maybe.

Glenda Palmer

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