I know how shocking it is for parents to be left behind after we suddenly depart for the Bridge. I was fine on a Sunday and gone within a week. Truthfully, if my vet had done x-rays, I wouldn’t have lasted that long. While it seemed sudden to you, the truth is that things were going on inside of me that you could not see and had been developing for a long time. You just caught the final scene. That is how illnesses work. They stay hidden, and when it raises its ugly head, it can be too late to stop it.
The same type of tragedy affected my sweet friend Kiki the Huskey this weekend. Like me, she seemed perfectly fine during the week, and then on Saturday, developed a cough, which made her parents fear she had been exposed to kennel cough. On Saturday morning, she enjoyed her walk but showed no interest in food, something quite strange for a chowhound like her. Her parents went to the emergency vet for what they had thought would be some anti-biotics. The technicians took x-rays, and her parents were relieved that there was no sign of cancer, but Kiki needed oxygen. As the day progressed, her breathing grew more labored. The vet tried different medications, but nothing worked, and Kiki, like me, could not exist outside of the oxygen tent. As my parents did nor me, Kiki’s made the decision the let her go.
Humans don’t love mysteries, but they are bothered when one goes unsolved. The vet is trying to determine what occurred that lead to Kiki’s transition. On the x-ray was a couple of unidentified shadows that the vet did not believe was cancer, but couldn’t identify. I have learned, from my seven years as a judge at Rainbow Bridge, that, unless it was a condition that could lead to other dogs having their lives extended if found, it doesn’t matter what brought us to the Bridge, because we are all assigned so many heartbeats, and when they expire we go to the Bridge. In tragic situations like this, it is better to remember that what happened to Kiki is what it is. The Bridge rarely answers the question of why.
Kiki knew her breathing was becoming more laborious in the days preceding her crossing, but, as all dogs do, she did not let her mom know of her troubles. Dogs have been put on Earth to make their parents’ lives better. That is why we silently try to manage our illnesses until the last moment, as Kiki did. All the time she spent masking her symptoms was worth it for her because it gave her mom joyful days.
But now those have come to an end. When a tragedy occurs which happens quickly and is unexpected it takes time for the mind to accept what it has happened. That delays the grief process. Kiki’s mom is slowly coming into the acceptance phase, and she will begin to walk through the dark forest that surrounds the road of grief. Its length is determined by how much you loved, and miss, the newest angel. For Kiki’s mom, it is going to be like walking several marathons before she emerges.
Kiki misses her mom, and sister Rosie, although Rosie has the advantage of remembering Kiki’s dream visits, something the human’s mind need for reason blocks. Kiki will try to break down the dream wall so her mom remembers at least one of her visits. She will also be visiting in various flying forms. She knows her mom’s heartbreak will continue for a long time, but all Kiki wanted from life was a happy mom, and Kiki supports her mom in her efforts to find some smiles again, even if that means inviting a new dog in the house, when she is ready.
When she walks the road of grief to keep looking in the shadows caused by the towering trees That is where the angels hide.