It was a mistake, of that I was sure. There had never been a mistake before, but surely this was one, and it was up to me to fix it.
I was standing at the top of the stairs waiting for a new arrival. Ladybug, one of our most revered greeter angels, was with me. Then I saw Romey coming up the stairs and I ran down (I know….I know…...I am not supposed to run down the steps. I never was very good with rules.)
Romey was young, healthy, vibrant, His Mom had just got married and through Romey we were all part of the planning and celebration. He had got a new sister: Lacey. They were just starting to be a family. There was no reason for him to be here. Romey must have been mistaken for another dog, one that looked like him, or had a similar name. He still had lots of living to do, lots of loving to give, lots of stories to share, lots of pictures to delight us with
I reached my most cherished friend and asked why he was here. He told me he ate a sock and it was stringy. The string perforated 18 inches of his intestine and he had to be operated on. It was now the next day, and he had crossed the River of Life via Rainbow Bridge.
I am a Yorkie, and Yorkies are known for their temper, but nothing had made me angrier than this. I stomped up the stairs on little paws. I brushed right past Ladybug who warned me not to go. I began to run, up the hill, my little legs churning, until I reached the open air Cathedral where there Big Dog resided. I walked right in, without an invitation, and, most disrespectfully, shouted: “Hey!”
The was a heavenly sigh: “Yes Foley?” a voice from the sky barked.
“There has been an error My friend Romey is here and he shouldn’t be. All he did was eat a sock. Us dogs eat stuff all the time, shoes, belts, wallets, remotes, chairs, couches, chocolate, all sorts of things we shouldn’t eat. Sometimes we get sick, sometimes we have to go to the vets, sometimes we even have operations, but we don’t cross Rainbow Bridge because of it. It makes no sense.”
I could hear another sigh, a great shuffling of position, and then the thunderous voice. “Every soul is born with so many heartbeats Foley,” he said. “I have told you this. And when those heartbeats end, how a soul crosses the River of Life does not matter, only what he did with those heartbeats.”
“But he was so young!” I argued.
“We all don’t get the same amount of heartbeats Foley. Some get a lot, some get only a few. Sadly, Romey did not get as many as others. But that’s the way it is. And there is nothing anybody can do about it.”
“But eating a sock, that’s a foolish reason to pass over.”
“Are there any reasons that aren’t foolish?” the Big Dog asked,
The Big Dog made some good points, but I hated to admit, so I hupphed, and turned around. It wasn’t the first time he had told me that a soul only had so many heartbeats, and that life was not fair, but it didn’t make it any easier to accept.
When I got back to the stairs they were empty, and I had a momentary hope that Romey had been sent back, but then I felt his soft paw on my shoulder, and he told me that a judge from another district had sworn him in. I apologized for not doing the honors myself.
“That’s OK Foley,” my always understanding friend said. “Arguing with the Big Dog for me was a stupid thing to do, but friends do stupid things for one another and I appreciate it very much. And, if you ever need me to do something like that for you, let me know, because that’s what good friends do for one another. But first there is something I must do.”
What he needed to do was find his Mom, his Dad, and Lacey a new pup to love. And this weekend he did that. He arranged for Lacey to convince her parents that she needed a new collar for Valentine’s Day, and the store she picked to get the collar had a rescue, and in that rescue was a young pup that Romey had selected for her parents. Some warm looks, some snuggles, some kisses, and this pup, now named Heidi, was with Romey’s parents, starting to build a new life together in their new family.
And I have Romey, who has promised to do something stupid for me someday, but, considering how smartly he moved Heidi into his home, I am going to be relying on doing plenty of smart things for me.
And most of all I am going to remember that it doesn’t matter how many heartbeats you have but what you do with them, and Romey did a great deal with a very few.