As I lay in my oxygen tent on a Sunday morning, my last as a mortal dog, my brother from another breed, Leo, mustered up all his magic to lay next to me in spirit form, so I would not be alone. When my teary-eyed parents arrived, I knew it was time. I kissed Leo and told him to go back to his mom. My last promise to him was that I would come for him when it was his time.
When it was his time, I didn’t want to go. If I went then, that meant that Leo, who had contracted an infection after undergoing his third chemotherapy treatment to treat leukemia, time as a mortal dog was over
We dogs need permission from the Big Guy to pass back to the moral side in spirit form. He always says no, but to help Leo with his transition, he let me go.
I arrived in spirit form and lay next to Leo. He was so weak I could reach inside of him and lift his soul like paper. I gave him time to say goodbye, then I lifted his slight soul and flew towards Rainbow Bridge. By the time I arrived his soul was back to full lion form. He might be my brother, but he was heavy.
I wanted to show Leo the Bridge’s beautiful landscape, but the clouds were hanging low, and rain was falling created by the tears of the many humans who were mourning Leo’s passing. I had never seen so many clouds, nor so much rain. Torrents of rain fell for hours filling rain gauges and spilling the river over its banks.
Waiting for us were hundreds of dogs, more than I had ever seen greet an angel, led by his brothers Bear and Hershey. Every dog held a tiny umbrella. While he was getting hugs and kisses from Smoochy, Brody, Smartie, Fella, Tommy, Cooper, Willie, Odie, and many other pups hidden under their umbrellas I battled the rain, flying above them. I reached into my robes and pulled out my gavel. I sprinkled Yorkie dust on the umbrellas creating one large party tent. Quickly a table was made and then plates of food were brought to honor Leo, who always provided food for our parties. We ate, talked, and laughed for hours until the rain finally subsided and the setting sun shown beneath the passing clouds. It was time for us to retire to our homes.
Leo was looking towards the setting sun. I took him by the paw and told him I was going to take him to his new home.
“I don’t live here,” he said. “I live with my mom.”
I hugged him. “I know buddy, but you can’t go back, there are rules.”
He continued to look ahead. “As soon as I got my diagnosis I began studying how I could get back to my mom if I went to the Bridge. I have a theory: If I fly as fast as I can into the small point where the river meets the sun, I will get home. And I am going to do it. Ask the others if they want to come.”
Asking the others if they wanted to follow Leo flying into the sun was the dumbest idea I ever heard. Unfortunately Brody, who never heard a dumb idea he didn’t love, did hear and quickly gathered dozens of friends to fly into the sun.
I stayed next to Leo as everyone lined up behind him. He pulled goggles out of his chow fur and told everyone to follow him.
“How do we get back?” I asked
“Go to the place where the road and the sky collide.”
“Leo, we are breaking the rules!” I said.
“We aren’t breaking the rules; We are making the rules.”
Leo ran, then began to fly, straight into the sun. Against my better judgment I followed.
We began flying faster and faster towards the sun.
Leo yelled out to us “Not a speck of life was showing, so the danger must be growing. The danger must be complying, cause we Flyers keep on flying. And we’re certainly not showing any sign that we are slowing.”
We flew into the sun, and then we were split off, pulled through separate star filled tubes. I landed with a thud and looked up. I was home.
Mommy was sitting with River and Pocket in her chair. They lifted their heads when they saw me. I growled, and River jumped off of Mommy’s lap. I jumped on her and reached up with my paw for her to scratch me, but my paw went right through her. I looked at her, but she could not see me. Then I realized: I was ghosting.
I was there, and my sisters could sense me there, but Mommy had no idea. How could she not recognize me? I was going to cry. Then I could sense mommy’s blood pressure going down, and her muscles relaxing. Somewhere in her brain, in those parts humans haven’t developed yet, she knew I was there, and I was making her better.
I stayed on her lap, content to smell her, and feel her, even if she couldn’t do the same. But she knew even if she didn’t know. I stayed with her until it was dinner time, then I decided to go back to the Bridge.
I headed to where the road and the sky collide, and I was back at the Bridge. Some of my friends were there, and they all had the same experience. One by one our friends returned, all with the same story. We all agreed we would go back, even if our parents didn’t know, and even if it was painful because it is our duty to protect our parents despite it being exhausting. Soon everyone was back, except for Leo.
I waited up for him until dawn. He finally landed next to me. I hugged him again and told me we needed to go to sleep. He shook his head.
“I promised Hattie breakfast in Paris,” he said. “You know how she hates to wait. Then I am playing Indian with my brothers. They are going to let me be Chief. After that a game of basketball with Smoochy and the boys and then back to my mom for the day.”
“But when are you going to sleep?” I asked.
“I have eternity to sleep, but only mom’s mortal life to be by her side and protect her. I will be here when she sleeps, and with her when she is awake, as long as she needs me. Now please excuse me, my sister,” he said kissing me on the cheek “my wife insists I get properly groomed before we go out for breakfast.”
And with that, my best friend flew off. I knew he felt the pain of being with his mom and her not recognizing him, but he is Leo, the Lion King, and nothing could keep him from seeing his mom, no matter what the rules.
In postscript, to any parent reading this, if you feel a calmness passing over you, or a sweet smile on your lips for no reason, know that one of your angel's pups is with you. Sometimes you can see them. They are right in the corner of your eye.
If you do feel your angels thank Leo who showed us the way home.
Straight into the horizon.