The Adventures of Skylar Grey

Chapter 16: Letting her go

Near the second anniversay of her death, Jazzy’s morning glories came up purple instead of blue. photo: susan dyer reynolds

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you’ll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you’ll understand why
Everything you touch, surely dies

But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

— “Let her go,” by Passenger

Sept. 1, 2014, was the second anniversary of Jazzy’s death from cancer. I still think of her every day, I still miss her every day, and I still find myself crying more often than I’d like to. The Mother’s Day before she passed away, “Jazzy” bought some morning glory seeds to put inside her card for “Grandma Kickie,” my dad’s longtime girlfriend. Having lost my mom so young, Kickie has been a second mother to me, and since my dad’s passing we’ve grown even closer. While she wasn’t thrilled I adopted a pit bull based on what she’d heard about the breed in the mainstream media, Jazzy quickly won her over, just like she did with everyone she met. And so every year since her adoption in 2006, Jazzy sent a card for Mother’s Day, and in 2012, she thought the seeds would be a nice touch.

The morning glories, called “Clarke’s Heavenly Blue,” came in a packet with a picture of flowers the same shade as Jazzy’s heavenly blue eyes, and one warm May morning we planted them by the back fence (when I say “we,” I mean I planted them while Jazzy supervised from the chaise lounge). Over the next few months the green tendrils unfolded into bright green leaves, and the vines began to wind up the white metal trellis. When I called Kickie the afternoon of Sept. 1, 2012, to tell her that Jazzy passed away, she began speaking before I could. “Jazzy’s first morning glory bloomed today!” she said, her voice filled with excitement. “It’s beautiful baby blue, just like her eyes.” I couldn’t help but think that Jazzy’s spirit was in that morning glory.

The following Mother’s Day, I planted a packet of the very same seeds in Jazzy’s honor, and in late August the light blue flowers began to bloom. By then I’d had Skylar Grey for nearly a year and had grown to love her, eccentricities and all. She was different than Jazzy in so many ways. Jazzy loved kids; Sky was afraid of them. Jazzy was brave; Sky was a scaredy-dog. Jazzy was independent; Sky was clingy. Jazzy wore shades of pink to match her princess personality; Sky wore shades of purple and lavender, which complemented her grey coat.

When Mother’s Day rolled around this year, I bought the same packet of “Heavenly Blue” morning glories and planted the seeds in the same spot against the back fence (Skylar was like Jazzy in one way — she liked to supervise from the chaise lounge). Every time we visited Kickie I checked the seeds, but nothing happened. “The morning glories aren’t coming up,” I told Kickie after waiting patiently for several weeks. “The seeds might be bad,” Kickie said. “Maybe you should get some more.” I went back to the same store I’d gone all three years and got the same packet of seeds. Once again I planted them against the back fence, and in a week I saw the seedlings emerge. Over the next few weeks, the tendrils unfolded into bright green leaves and the vines began to wind up the white metal trellis.

One warm evening in late August, I was playing fetch with Skylar in the garden, and I noticed the vines looked different than before — they were thicker and hairier, and the leaves had turned deep emerald rather than the usual lighter shade of pear green. I shrugged it off and threw Sky’s round rubber frog toy, which she gleefully caught on the first bounce. “Jazzy didn’t like to play fetch,” I told her. “Unless it was in the ocean. Otherwise she’d just lay on the lounge and make me go get the ball.” I’d always wanted a dog that liked to fetch, and I remember being disappointed when Jazzy wasn’t interested. I loved that Sky would fetch for hours, but I felt a twinge of guilt even thinking that.

The next night when Skylar and I went out to the garden to play fetch, I noticed the first morning glory had bloomed and, at a distance in the dusk, it looked purple. I squinted and began walking toward the back fence. Sure enough, the morning glory was purple, and it was the same shade as the collar Sky was wearing. I thought perhaps it was just a freak thing with the first blossom and the rest would be light blue, but within days the trellis was awash in purple, and I couldn’t help but think Jazzy’s spirit was in those morning glories, telling me it was OK to let her go.

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