“Dear Mrs. Marsha: This is Stella Rose just in case you thought it is that crazy ass ferret Ed, I just wanted to clarify. So anyway in case you didn't know I have been sick AGAIN, wif those damn stones and I wanted to address somefing wif you. I know your River has connections wif the "Big Guy" and I wondered if you could discuss something wif River and him for me. I decided I wanted to share my plan, wif you, and River and I guess the "Big Guy". So when the time comes and the medicines stop working, I have decided I am not crossing over to the Rainbow Bridge, I am only going 10 steps across, and putting up a pup (lol) tent, and building a fire wif smores, and just waiting around on my mom. Even if it takes 50 years, I am just going to wait. Now I am sure there are rules and fings up there, so that is why I need River on my side about this. So I hope I am not putting you in a precarious position but it is somefing I just wanted to talk to you about. It is not that I think I am special and should not cross like all the other dogs and kittens and cats etc. do, but I am just a rather stubborn little pug, and have been known to dig my heels in when something does not set well wif me. So ten steps, and I wait, for however long it takes. If I run out of smores its okay. Your Friend in Blogville.......Stellie Rose”
River gave me Stella’s letter the next time I visited her in her dreams. “What did you tell her?” I asked River.
“I said it was perfectly fine,” River said, unconcerned.
“You said it was fine!” I barked. “It’s not fine. This has never been done before. This is unheard of. Not completing the journey!” I was very flustered. “You have to tell her no!”
River shrugged. “Sorry, I already said yes and you know you can’t break a promise to a pug.”
I hurried back to the Bridge. I had so much work to do before Stellie got there. I met with the Big Guy. I met with a Board of Big Guy’s. I met with the Big Guy Board. Finally, I was given a judgment. Stellie could stop ten steps away from Rainbow Bridge and wait.
Last week Casey, one of our newer angels, came to tell me that Stella visited him in his dreams. She said she would be joining us very soon, but she had changed her mind. Stella would climb to the top step and be closer to Casey, Trudee. Sammy J and Cotton, but she would still be only 21 steps from her mom. She had no intention of completing her journey. What was I going to tell the Big Guy Board?
I stood before them and said that Stella would be stopping at the 21st step and not the 10th. Oh, how the Big Guys thundered! Lightning bolts were thrown! Hail rained down from the heavens!. Who was to blame for this outrage, they asked. I stammered, I stuttered, and then I blurted out the world’s oldest excuse: “Spell check error.”
They stopped their grumbling. “Oh, spell check error, perfectly understandable, Stella’s plans were approved.
I hurried back to Rainbow Bridge Landing, and I found Stella, on the top step, setting up her tent. She smiled and blew me a kiss. “Don’t you want to come all the way to the top?” I asked. “You can get your wings, fly through the hills, eat at the chocolate forest, choose a body from any time in your life, or become a butterfly to see your parents. It’s just one more step.”
Stella was a very stubborn little girl. But that stubbornness served her well. It got her through going blind, becoming mostly deaf, suffering debilitating, painful bladder stones, and back leg problems that greatly affected her walking. But Stella kept moving forward, through the darkness, the silence, and those long nights when it was just her and the pain. She stayed by her mother’s side longer than most dogs could bear. Now, after her mom had helped her pass, she would not take that final step onto the Bridge, afraid that cord that had connected Stella and her mom would break if she did.
“I am fine,” Stella assured me as she finished her tent. I ducked inside as the clouds of humans tears for her passing passed past over us. When I opened the flap, Casey ran inside, knocking me over. He licked and kissed Stella so much he would have suffocated her if she still needed air.
And that is where she has been ever since. Casey spends a lot of time with her, but he also runs with his siblings. Each day I ask Stella if she wants to take the final step and she says no, she will wait for her mom. She has become the first angel to greet dogs when they arrive at the Bridge. I don’t mind that she usurped me. I am still the official greeter and oath giver.
No one passed a proclamation or made it official, but the top step is now known as Stella’s step and will be long after her mom takes the final step with her and they walk off together into Rainbow Bridge.