I’ve never been a big believer in the supernatural or life after death. It’s a nice idea that there’s something beyond all this, but I tend to think it’s just oblivion… an unfathomable non-existence devoid of any shred of awareness. We think we’re special because we’re humans. We think we can linger on after our death. I doubt that, and for that reason, I don’t believe in spirits or phantoms or ghosts. Now, dog ghosts, on the other hand…
A Stir of Jet-choes
Last month, I had to say goodbye to my BFF writing partner cuddle buddy prolific fart machine Jetson. The week that followed was more difficult than I expected it to be. The problem? I kept hearing him.
Sighs. Yawns. The clicky-clack of his nails on the hardwood. Jetson always made a lot of noise. He liked to let you know he was there.
I knew it was my brain playing tricks on me, trying to compensate for his absence. And as the days passed, I heard him less and less. I expected him less and less.
We haven’t shied away from remembering Jetson. His photos still scroll on the digital frames and the Echo Shows. His ashes sit in a polished wood box beneath a glass dome high on our shelves in the living room. We see him every day and remember him every day.
The memories remain, but the feeling is waning. Losing power and water in freezing weather last week refocused our attention, and when things finally got back to normal, I realized I couldn’t feel Jetson’s presence anymore.
I didn’t like that.
Jetson could have been an emotional support dog. He was always there to get right up in your face and take your mind off of whatever was bothering you. In contrast, his sister Cheyenne hardly lifts her head from the couch when we come back after an afternoon out.
Like I said before: Jet liked to let you know he was there.
With a toddler in the house, I sleep with one eye and one ear open at all times. The slightest noise wakes me up, which is great because I’d rather hear my son at the bedroom door rather than stay asleep until his face is an inch from mine.
A few days ago, I woke up randomly in the middle of the night. And as I rolled over to go back to sleep, I heard Jetson yawn. Some dogs can yawn silently, but Jetson like to add this weird high-pitched muted scream to his. Sometimes I yawn like that too, so who am I to judge? The point is, I heard it plain as day coming from the living room.
I stared at the open bedroom door, fully awake, fully aware there was no way it actually could have been Jetson. What broke the spell was the security panel on the wall by the door. When disarmed, it has a little green LED that indicates the system is ready. The light goes out when a door is opened or if motion is detected in the living room. As I was sitting there waiting, the light went out. Since there was no accompanying chime, that meant the motion sensor had gone off.
Oh, I thought. It must have been Matador who made a sound.
I got out of bed and walked out of the bedroom fully expecting to see a sleepy toddler waddling his way through the living room. Instead, there was nothing. Thinking he might have already started walking back to his bed, I went to his room and found him under the covers and fast asleep.
I checked out security cameras to see if he’d gotten up at all, and he hadn’t. The only thing that had moved in the living room was me coming to investigate.
Confused, but half-asleep myself, I went back to bed. When I woke up the next morning, two questions were waiting for me:
- Who or what had made that very distinctive yawning sound?
- Who or what had tripped the motion sensor?
I don’t believe in human ghosts because if they do exist, none of them have interacted with me in a way that proves their existence beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Okay, so maybe I don’t really believe in canine ghosts now, but I do have a better understanding of why you believe in human ghosts.
Something made a noise. Something tripped the sensor. The very idea that it could have been Jetson’s spirit or ghost brought me so much joy. The idea that he is still with us in this house, loyal to his pack, watching over us, keeping us company, tied to us with an unbreakable familial bond…
It just warms the heart.
I hope you are here, Jetson. I hope you see how much we continue to love you every single day.