Standing adjacent to one another on Hobo's landing overlooking Rainbow Bridge, Hattie, Scooby and I were waiting on our friend Josie, as we had many times before. Josie had many brushes with passing over, from before I was at the Bridge, to the times I waited alone, until now when I was joined by Josie’s besties. Josie somehow kept alluding the Bridge’s great grasp.
Josie lived on a farm. She was the leader of a sizeable pack, including her large, lovable brother Koda, that became unruly with the addition of three rollicking brothers, Elvis, Huck and Moo, who viewed rules as mere suggestions and acted like frat boys living life to it's destructive fullest.
Although Mama Barbara loves all her pups equally, she and Josie created a unique bubble just for the two of them that they could retreat to it when the madness became too much to bear. It took two of them to create a safe space and if one were gone the other would be left to their own devices. That is why Josie fought so hard to stay with her mom. Through diabetes, eating objects that caused blockages, (because like all of us Josie is perfectly imperfect) and three battles with cancer, Josie remained in the bubble with her mom, while begging for and stealing every extra heartbeats.
No matter how much we may try we are born with a one-way ticket to the Bridge, and while we can stave it off eventually the stub must be utilized. On a cold December day when Josie's body could no longer fight she and her mom shared a look of grief and understanding. Then Josie pulled the worn chit from her fur and held it up to the sunlight. In just a moment Josie was no longer a part of the earthly realm.
As Josie passed her friends awaited her. Smoochie held a bouquet of tulips. Hattie clutched a purple smock she had made for her best girlfriend. Hattie straightened Smoochy's tie, kissed him on the nose and told him it would be alright.
At one time, not too long ago Josie, Hattie, Smoochie and Brody, who was running in and out of the gathering crowd too excited about his friend's arrival to stand still, were the brightest lights in a group of dogs who found their own small corner of the Internet to romp, complain about their parents, tell stories of walks taken and cuddles given, and to have adventures far beyond our imaginations. They were always kind, never mean, the personification of love. Their affection for one another spread through the group bettering all of our lives.
Hattie gasped when Josie appeared, just a small black dot on the horizon. She walked towards us tentatively turning and looking back as if she was regretted her inevitable decision. When she came within viewing distance, Josie lifted her right paw and gently waved. Then she ran up the steps and was immediately swamped with hugs from Smoochy, Hattie, and Brody. The very description of a dog pile.
As they began to untie their limbs a rain of tears from Mama Barbara and all those mourning Josie's loss began to fall. Our umbrellas went up, red, blue, purple white, black and green. They twirled as we searched for our parent's tears. What a show it made for the eagles circling above us.
The rains cleared and Josie spent hours greeting her many friends who came to greet her. When the clouds dissipated, Josie asked her friends for time alone. As the sky darkened, she looked towards the warm glow coming from the lights attached to every tree limb on her farm. She had been taught by her friends during dream dates how to comfort her mom when that dreaded moment came.
Josie waited for the breeze and began repeating "I love you, Mom, I love you Mom,” hoping her mere words would reach her grieving mom and help rebuild that unique bubble where nothing could get to her. She stopped when she saw a black speck in the distance. As it grew larger, she realized it was her brother Koda who she had left in charge of the pack and their mom’s heart. Josie ran towards Koda crying, wondering how everything went so wrong.
To be continued….