Shep bounded over Rainbow Bridge like he had hellhounds on his tail. He ran up the steps and came to a skidding stop at Hobo's Landing, where I waited to give him the Angel Oath. I had not known Shep when I was mortal. I befriended him after I accepted a judgeship and went to the Bridge. Still, he recognized me and, upon doing so, began to wag his tail frantically.
"Angel Foley" he exclaimed. "I thought you were at the Bridge. What are you doing here?"
I had seen this happen before. Sometimes a passing is so traumatic that an angel doesn't remember crossing over. It is like when a person is in a bad car accident. The mind makes the memory disappear to protect itself. It was up to the greeting angel, in this case, me, to break the news to the newest arrival that their mortal life had ended. It was tough because I knew Shep lived an exemplary life.
His mom simply adored him, and he her. They were best friends from the first moment they met. They navigated the last decade, one of the most tumultuous in history side by side. No matter what life threw at them, no hand could beat their pair. But now, they would have to continue their trek without one another. The question is, how could either go forward?
The answer to that question is the angels who await their humans. First, we had to ease Shep's pain. Then together, we could start to mend his mom's, broken heart.
I gently took Shep by the paw and led him back down to the River of Life. There he could see all the memories he had living with his mom. The final one was of him gently going to sleep in her arms.
Shep spoke bluntly. "Well, that sucks." He had summed up crossing over better than anyone I knew. He insisted on seeing how his mom was doing. I was reluctant, knowing that viewing her would only push Shep further into depression. But there is a long tradition that an angel judge can never deny a request on a dog's arrival day. I shook my paw in the water, and the scene changed to his morose mom.
"I have to go back," Shep said excitedly. I told him that he was not allowed to do that, at least in corporal form, and that I would convene a panel of angels to give him a crash course on how to heal his mom.
I assembled a group of angels who cured their mom's blues in record time. They each passed on valuable tips to Shep about visiting his mom as a bird, in dreams, or even as a ghost. He was also instructed how to leave clues in her subconscious and the house to show he had been there and to make it something personal so she would know. That night the angels took him into his mom's dreams, where he began repairing the damage done.
Shep took to the lessons right away. He is already easing his mom's pain in ways she can't imagine. All parents, after they travel griefs difficult road, come out to the other end stronger. That is some super-secret angel strength on display.