Some weeks I am stunned to see a friend crossing the Bridge, other weeks, having kept tabs on my friends, and knowing their status, I am less surprised, though still saddened to see them.
Since I first met him five years ago Otis has been suffering from diabetes and has been blind, His Mom has taken wonderful care of him, but diabetes is not an aging dog’s friend and finally Otis’ condition deteriorated. His parents were forced to make the long dreaded decision after Otis’ appetite decreased to nearly non-existent. he showed signs of confusion, and was in pain. After one final trip to his favorite place in the world, his backyard, his parents aided him on his trip.
And soon he was climbing the stairs from the Bridge to be sworn in, and while I could feel his parents’ pain, I could also feel their relief that their decision had stopped their beloved baby’s pain, I saw Otis, for the first time in our friendship, seeing me, as he slowly looked around, taking it all in: Hundreds of friends, the sky, the clouds, the mountains, the river, the birds and the Bridge.
When he reached me, after I swore him in, I asked him, out of everything he was seeing for the first time in years what were his thoughts. “You’re really short,” he said. “I knew you were small but man, you’re tiny.” I pointed out the sun, the birds, the grass, the butterflies. “Yeah, they’re nice,” he said. “but damn you’re smaller than an overfed squirrel.”
Becoming slightly annoyed, I decided to change the subject, and asked Otis what he would miss the most about the mortal side of the Bridge. “That’s easy,” he said. “My Mom. Us dogs are supposed to take care of our Moms but I got sick and she spent so much time taking care of me I could barely take care of her. I was so lucky getting her for a Mom. A blind diabetic dog is not easy. The commitment, the shots, the cost of the medicine, arranging the house so I didn’t get hurt, she did so much for me. If only I could tell her how much I loved her and appreciated what she did for me one more time.” I put my average sized paw on his and told him he just did.
I asked him if there was anything he wanted to do. He sadly shook his head and said his only wish his last days was to look at his Mom’s pretty face one more time. I told him to follow me and we went down the stairs to the River of Life and I told him to look in. Instead of his reflection he saw his sad Mom mourning him. “She looks more beautiful than the last time I saw her,” he marvelled. I asked him if he wanted to explore and he said he was happy just to sit by the River and finally see his Mom.
I sat with Otis for awhile, but then I saw another friend climbing the steps, Daisy from Downunder, who writes her own very popular blog.
I loved reading it, especially in the winter, when she would take us along on her hot summer walks while we were freezing. Daisy, like me. had cancer, and she fought for a long time, but we all have only so many heartbeats. After I swore her in she asked me what Otis was doing, and when I told her, she said that sounded wonderful, so we joined Otis. Daisy watched over her grieving mother in the water too.
But I wasn’t looking at my Mom, I do that a lot each day, I was watching Otis watch, and seeing his Mom’s reflection in his seeing eyes was the best thing I saw in a long time.