I walked through our Doggyspace neighborhood to a new sparkling house covered in jewels, which was appropriate because living inside, after arriving at the Bridge ten days earlier, was my old friend Jewel.
I rang her bell. The chime sounded pretty. I heard the pitter patter of paws, and then Jewel opened the door. “Hello, Foley,” she said, then gave me a long hug.
When she let me go, I took hold of her paws. “My friend, I owe you an apology,” I said. A confused Jewel asked me why.
“I try to pay tribute to a dog each week, usually one that arrives at Rainbow Bridge.”
“Oh yes,” Jewel said. “I read them, I know some people find them emotionally manipulative and overly maudlin but I like them.”
This is what I love about Jewel. She has always been a straight shooter. I continued. “Last week, when Kaizer came, I decided to write about him. I should have written about you too.”
“Oh Foley,” she said touching my face. “It’s OK. I would rather have a blog all about me, even if I have to wait a week. You never have to apologize. Now come in and have a slice of lemon cake.”
I sat down at her table, and she gave me a delicious slice of lemon cake. I asked her how she was adjusting to living at the Bridge. “It is lovely here,” Jewel said as her eyes looked over her little house. “But I do miss Mommy so. She took such tender care of me my whole life, and I tried to do the same for her. Sometimes I was hard to care for because I was a nervous, little dog. But nothing calmed me down like Mommy. I still get the shakes, even here, and at first, I couldn’t calm down because Mommy wasn’t there, but then I thought of her, and I slipped right into her mind, and it calmed me. I hope she knew I was there. I don’t think she knew in her mind, but I hope she did in heart, because that is where the most treasured memories are kept.”
Jewel took our plates and put them in the sink then sat down. “I felt terrible when I took sick, not for me, but for Mom. All her worst fears rushed upon her at once. Mommy hadn’t been working much, which was great because we had a lot of time together, but she didn’t have money, and the last thing she needed was a sick pup. But we can’t control these things. I developed a cough and a heart murmur. I knew the number of heartbeats I had left was ending, and I metered each one out to stay as long as I could, and Mommy spent every cent she had to stretch that heart beats out too, but finally, they ran out, and I expired, having to leave her.” Jewel grabbed a tissue with her paw and dabbed her eyes. “I just wish there was more time.”
“We all do,” I said, and then we hugged and sat silently for a long time.
“That’s not my story,” Jewel said, “that’s just the end. Come again sometime, and I will tell you the real story of my life. The happy, fun-filled, loving days I spent with my Mom. That is a story worth telling and remembering, not the end, that was just a sliver of life. I know we concentrate on the end, but we need to remember all the good before the end.”
The sun was setting. I needed to get home. I stood and thanked Jewel for the lemon cake. I promised to come back with a cake of my own and to hear all her stories about her life. The important times, the only ones worth hearing, all the days before the end.