I did things the way you’re supposed to: I got married, my
husband worked as a long-haul trucker and I got a job at a factory
nearby. I worked through my pregnancy -- we knew this would be our
only child, and we wanted to provide everything we could for her.
Sissy was the best thing that ever happened to us. Cute as a button,
smart, never met a stranger. When she was five years old, we got
her a puppy -- a yellow lab. She called him Sonny, and they were
buddies from the start. They’d run around and around inside
the house until I sent them outside, then they’d run around
and around outside until I called them in for supper. Sissy would
be tuckered out she could hardly stay awake through supper. I knew
she slipped Sonny food offa her plate, but I never said nothing.
She loved that dog. By the time I got the dishes done I’d
find them curled up sound asleep together in front of the TV. We’d
have to carry Sissy upstairs and she’d never even wake up.
Those were the good times.
It happened the first time when Sissy was eight. I woke up in the
middle of the night cause she was screamin that something was after
her; it was gonna kill her. There wasn’t nothing in her room
-- I figured it was a nightmare -- but it took her a long time to
get back to sleep. When it happened again two months later, I figured
she just had an over-active imagination. A month later when she
had another spell, I didn’t get back to sleep that night.
We were all on edge, wondering when we’d get woken up again.
But the next time it happened wasn’t a night -- she was at
school. Of course, I got a call at work and went over right away,
and talked to the school nurse and made an appointment with a doctor.
Over the next year we went to a lotta of doctors and spent a whole
lotta money, but it didn’t do no good: she still had spells
when she was screamin that something was trying to kill her; no
one could figure it out. Course, she couldn’t keep goin to
school. I coulda helped her with the work she missed, but after
the second time . . . well, you know how kids are about things they
don’t understand. They were just hateful, and . . . and I
just couldn’t send her back there.
My husband was drivin a lot -- I was the one to take Sissy to all
those doctors. I finally missed enough work that they let me go.
My husband, he wasn’t a bad man, but he just couldn’t
handle what was goin on. We never really fought about it, he just
left on a run one day and didn’t come back. Didn’t even
call Sissy after that. When I couldn’t keep up on the house
payments no more we took Sonny and moved in with my mom. That didn’t
work out too good. So in the spring, we moved in with my sister
and her kids, and that didn’t work out so good either. Between
Sissy wakin up screamin and worrying about when it was gonna happen
next, didn’t none of us get much sleep. We lived outta my
car for a while, but that was hard -- especially with Sonny. We
couldn’t hardly feed ourselves, let alone a full-grown dog.
When we finally moved into the shelter, we had to give Sonny away.
They don’t let no dogs in shelters. I can’t hardly talk
about it. I thought Sissy was gonna go crazy cryin and carryin on
when she had to say good bye to Sonny.
We’d been in the shelter a couple weeks -- Sissy wasn’t
doin any better, every night I was trying to keep her from having
those dreams, but she couldn’t hardly sleep; she was clenched
up all the time. I didn’t know what we were gonna do. And
then one of the women told me about a preacher -- a preacher who
healed people. He was comin to our town the next week. Of course,
not to our side of town -- nobody came there -- but maybe close
enough that I could see him. I figured, what do I got to lose? I
tried everything else and nothin worked -- why not? I didn’t
know if you gotta have insurance to go to a healer, but I woulda
done anything, anything if I thought it could help Sissy. Only trouble
was, I didn’t have a car no more, and it was a pretty long
way. I’d gotten careful about goin out in public with Sissy,
in case something happened, but I guess we’d have to risk
When that day came, I knew Sissy couldn’t make it. She’d
been kinda screamin and thrashin around, all clenched up, and I
knew I couldn’t take her on the bus. I decided I had to go
and take my chances, no matter what. I left Sissy with a friend
at the shelter, and I went by myself. There was a big crowd there
at the church -- big fancy church. It was clear full when I got
there; I couldn’t even get inside the door. I tried to press
up to where the healer was, but I couldn’t get close enough.
I didn’t come that far to turn around and go home. I started
hollering, “Healer, help me! My daughter is sick. She’s
got terrible nightmares that won’t stop!” some people
told me to shush, but I wouldn’t shush. I kept hollerin “Healer,
help me! My daughter needs help!” Some men came over and told
me I had to leave. I said, “I ain’t leavin til I see
the Healer. My daughter needs help.” Finally, they let me
get up to where the Healer was. He took one look at me and said,
“I didn’t come to help people like you.” Like
me? What did he mean? What are people like me? I said, “Please,
my daughter needs help.”
And he looked me right in the eye and said, “It isn’t
right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”
And he started to turn away. Dogs? Had he just called me and Sissy
dogs? Like we were some kind of animals? I then I thought of Sonny.
How much we loved him, how he was part of our family -- maybe even
the best part of our family; how happy Sissy was when she was with
him. And I stood up straight and I looked right at the Healer and
I said, “Sir, even the dogs can eat the scraps that fall from
the table.” And he stopped and turned around and looked at
me; like maybe he was seein something he hadn’t noticed before.
And I just looked right back at him. After a bit he smiled and said,
“You have great faith. It will be as you have asked: your
daughter is healed.” Well, I couldn’t wait to get back
to see what happened to Sissy; I pretty much ran the whole way back
to the shelter and up to the room where my friend was with her.
Sissy was asleep. Only not like she had been sleepin, all clenched
up and thrashing around, but really asleep. Relaxed and peaceful;
the way she used to fall asleep with Sonny.
That was a coupla weeks ago. Sissy hasn’t had any of her
spells since then. Me and Sissy kinda feel like we got our lives
back. I got Sissy signed up for school again and I think I’ve
got a job lined up. We’re gonna be able to move out of the
shelter pretty soon, and I promised Sissy that the first thing we’re
gonna do when we get settled is go the animal shelter and get us
a dog. I don’t know what happened to the Healer after I saw
him. I figgered he wouldn’t listen to me, that I was the wrong
kind of people, but he heard me. He looked at me. He changed our
lives. Things don’t always work out the way we think they’re
gonna. Thanks for listenin to me.