Shortly after Juno died someone told me I’d dream of her. What this person actually said was that she would visit me in my dreams. I didn’t believe. Even now it’s still hard to take in. But last night, less than three weeks after her death, it happened.
The edges are fuzzy and the transitions are abrupt. I only remember the end, the most important part. That’s how I dream. Things don’t connect well or make any sense. Then suddenly there’s a sequence that does, one that makes perfect sense, a bit of wisdom that breaks clearly through to waking life.
I was in a house, an old mansion with dark heavy wood, the sturdy kind that lasts centuries. It was cool and grey outside, like fall in the Midwest, not unpleasant, but not particularly pleasant either. There were many buildings on the grounds, hidden passages and walkways. There were other people around. None talked to me. I was a stranger and I’d traveled there alone. I was looking for Juno.
When I first saw her I thought it was a trick of the eye. In the waking world I sometimes see her just on the edge of vision, a flash of gold, a flick of her feathered tail. I saw her run back up to the front door like that just moments after our vet carried her body away. That was the first time. Since then, I only catch her in glimpses, hints of who she used to be, stretched out where she used to sleep, trotting up the walk with her ears forward and her tail high. I know Tim sees her too. It only lasts a second. But in the dream it was different.
Juno was walking on a stone path, a covered walkway 10 feet up connecting two buildings. I ran to her and she turned and came to me. Her fur was different, lighter, curlier, but I knew it was Juno. I can prove it’s her, I thought, I will find the scars. I searched her leg and parted her fur looking for the gnarled lines from two surgeries. They were not the same, so light and thin now, hard to see, even harder to feel. She lay still while I petted her belly and cried for the joy of seeing her again. I guess that’s when I noticed. The scars were faded. But the lumps were missing altogether, no angry tightly stretched tumors. She was smooth and soft and sweet smelling. The cancer was gone.
People started to notice us. I never asked but they knew I wanted to take her. We gathered in a room where Juno lived, high stone walls and heavy wood beams, old-style sofas and a perfect roaring fire. Juno settled down in a corner, while a smaller dog snoozed on one of the sofas. I couldn’t imagine how many people lived there; so many kept coming in. They were here to listen to me make my case, to tell the story of my life with this dog, the dog they now called Vivian. When I awoke the name made such sense, the Latin root: “full of life.”
My mother has never spoken to me in a dream until this one. A man had brushed up against me and she took my arm and said “He just tried to pick your pocket.” “No,” I said, “I didn’t even bring my wallet.” And we laughed. All that relates to an inside joke that my mom never knew about in life. I guess she knows now and thinks it’s funny. I only mention it because those were the only words spoken in the dream.
I never got to speak. I never made my case to bring Juno home. I guess that’s because she was already there. The last time I saw her she was sleeping just around the corner from the smaller dog on the sofa. The fire was warm and strong. She was with good people who loved her, people who had named her well.