My friend Blazer came tearing through the front door of my cottage and then right out the back. As I slowly got out of bed, he ran through the house again. He had a case of the zooms.
His next time through I stopped him and asked what was wrong. “My Mommy is coming, my Mommy is coming,” he yelled, his tail wagging furiously. I asked him to explain. “Something happened to mommy; I don’t know what, all I know is that she is coming.” He ran out the door, then came back in, wet his paw, and patted down the hair on his forehead. “You look beautiful,” I told him. He scooted out the door. I followed, after patting down my hair with my licked paw.
I was happy for Blazer; there is nothing more beautiful than a parent and pet reunion. But I also knew there would be very many sad humans. A cloud of their tears burst over us as I ran behind Blazer. I made a note to collect my mom’s tears to help my garden grow.
My mom knew Blazer’s mom better than she knew any online friend. For years they had exchanged emails.
Life did not give Blazer’s mom, Miss Vicki, many breaks. She had a difficult childhood and became estranged from her family; she married young, to an older man, and their marriage dissolved without children; her dependent personality led her down some bad roads; then came the lung cancer which robbed her of 75% of her lung capacity and made her unable to eat solid food; and then came bankruptcy and depression.
All she had was her dog Blazer and cat Kimber until one day she stumbled on a site called Doggyspace. And it was there that she found her family.
But her pets would always come first. When she was suffering through hard times, while she could still eat, a friend brought over a plate of prime rib. She fed it to Blazer and Kimber. When her friends asked why she said that she would rather be hungry, then let her kids go hungry.
She had an astonishing thirst for knowledge. Around her house books were stacked from floor to ceiling. After contracting cancer, she became obsessed with why she got the dreaded disease and had read hundreds of books on carcinogens. When the Japan earthquake occurred, she read everything she could on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. What she learned about the damage to the ocean and the air, and that the damage had spread to America through rain, and the long-term ramifications of the disaster would keep the hardiest soul awake all night. She wrote, in her last email to my mom, entitled “I’m Still Alive” that she had received more books about Fukushima and other chemical disasters and not to worry if mom did not hear from her: She would be reading for a few days.
Despite the difficult, painful life she had lived she was filled with love and compassion. She aided my mom greatly after I passed. She was a great friend to Mrs. Jackie Pool who arrived at the Bridge after contracting the same lung cancer that Miss Vicki had survived. When our great friend Leo swallowed a frog, she stayed on chat with his mom until they knew it was not poisonous. When DS shut down, she stayed on the site, long after everyone else had been blocked, posting protest blogs lambasting the company that shut DS down.
When Blazer passed in June of 2015, following Kimber’s passing in 2014, Vicki suffered terribly. She questioned if she had let him go too early, or let him go too late. Mom became worried about her: She was so alone.
Finally, she adopted an abused senior dog named Degas. He had been severely burned and had many physical issues. They were only together a month before Degas joined Blazer.
Then she adopted Rusty, another senior dog, with CHF. Vicki insisted on adopting senior dogs because she wanted to outlive her pets. She had not counted on how much she would bond with Rusty. Her letters were filled with love for him. She was terribly worried his constant coughing and trouble breathing would send him to the Bridge too soon. But it would be Vicki who went to the Bridge.
I saw her, on her knees, hugging Kimber and Drobo, who preceded Blazer. Degas danced around her. And then she saw Blazer. He ran like he had not run for years. He jumped into her arms. They both cried. The dogs around her clapped and howled. Then all the dogs surrounded them, licking her while she scratched them all. Oh, I wish you could have seen how happy she was.
I introduced myself to her, and she hugged me for a really long time and whispered in my ears words I can only tell my mom in her dreams. I told her since she had no family left behind, that her, and her beloved pets, could advance to the land of Happily Ever After, where there is never a worry and every day is filled with smiles and love.
She scratched my ears. “Oh, dear Foley, I have plenty of family. They are all your families, and we can’t go to Happily Every After until all your loved ones are there.” She pointed to the distance where dogs who were crossing the Bridge after passing over unrescued in shelters.
She asked me who those dogs were and I told her. She said that she would take them all. I smiled and told her to follow me. We came to a large mansion. I told her that it was hers.
“Foley, I don’t need all of this,” she said looking at the house.
“Here, it’s not about what you need; it’s about what you deserve.”
Vicki gave me a kiss on the head then opened the front door. All her pets, save Blazer, entered. Vicki whistled. All the unrescued dogs who had crossed the River of Life came running past me, and Blazer, who tried to write down all their names, then gave up, throwing the paper and pencil over his shoulder, joined them. They picked up a laughing Vicki and carried her into the house.
I walked back to my cottage.
Sometimes the best happily ever after is the one you make for yourself.