Two more of my friends, Rani-Go and Bailey, arrived at Rainbow Bridge this week. It filled me with fury. I was determined to fly up the mountain to confront the Big Guy. Why is there such despair just before Christmas? How much pain can humans endure? I wanted the Big Guy to answer the questions he has thus far avoided.
I was preparing to fly up the mountain when I heard the church bell calling me to the top of the stairs. I shook my head and wondered which friend’s family had been devastated. I heard little paws bouncing up the steps. I looked up at the sun, and when I glanced back, I dropped to my knees, grabbed my friend of close to ten years by the waist, and sobbed.
MacDougal, after 16 years of mortal life, many illnesses and close calls, had finally run out of heartbeats.
MacDougal and I have been friends for ten years. Right now his Christmas card is hanging on the cabinet over my mom’s dishwasher. He is smiling; his eyes are filled with joy, looking like he loves every second of life, which I am sure he did.
The bond between him and his mom, Aunt Inge, may have been the strongest union I have experienced. Shortly after we became friends Mac’s dad was diagnosed with cancer He fought the disease bravely, but, sadly he was taken from Mac and his mom way too soon. Aunt Inge and Mac mourned together, recovered together, and moved on together. That is the word that springs to mind when I think of Mac and Aunt Inge: Together.
A pup does not live 16 years without their body starting to betray them, and that happened to Mac. His pancreas and his liver were both problems. He needed expensive medicine every day. His mom loved to travel but that had to be put on hold. Mac could not be left alone.
But his mom did not miss her old life because she knew what she had in MacDougal. He was joy personified. Who wouldn’t give up their life for more days with a barking, playing, loving, furry beating heart of joy?
There were many times when we thought Mac was on the cusp of becoming an angel. Aunt Inge had made an appointment in August to send Mac to the angels after he hadn’t eaten for six days. That afternoon Mac let his mom know he was not ready by eating two bowls of food.
But we all knew he was on borrowed time. And Saturday, that bill came due. That strong, joyful, persistent little heart gave one final beat in his mom’s loving arms, and seconds later I was wrapped around his legs crying.
Mac put a paw on my shoulder. “It’s OK, old friend,” he said to me. (I really am a terrible greeter. My job is to console new angels, and they all end up helping me). “I could not have had a better life. The first time I saw my beautiful mom I was a dirty ball of fur: The runt of the litter. But guess what? The runt had the best life. And now I need to get to work on being the best angel.”
I stood and composed myself then swore Mac in, but that composure was temporary, because when I turned, I saw, squatting, with his arms open, waiting, Mac’s dad, who had left him so many years before. Mac barked in joy and ran to his Dad, jumping ten feet and landing in his arms. Mac gave him 1,000 kisses, and he got 1,000 more in return. There is nothing more moving than a parent and dog reunion at the Bridge.
Mac apologized for taking so long, and his dad said it was fine. He wanted Mac to stay with his mom as long as he could. That was where he was needed.
Mac will be back to visit him mom soon, even though she may not know it. That is what stinks about being an angel.
While I know his mom has a large chasm in her chest where her heart used to be, she should know that Mac is still being loved every day and has a warm lap to sit on it and a soft hand to ruffle the hair on top of his head.
He wants his mom to get the tears out, to cry as long as she needs. Once the tears are out the healing can begin, and with Mac as her angel, he will be sure direct her to more joy to help heal her heart.