It took almost two weeks for me to wash the throws on the sofa. I didn’t want your scent to be gone from Cordi. I wanted you to still be there even though I couldn’t see you there anymore.
You came home last week. I haven’t been able to open the box. I’m afraid of what will come if I do. The tears have started to escape again. I’ve stopped fighting them. The other night they wouldn’t stop, it was like I felt your loss for the first time. And that’s exactly how it feels every time I look at your spot on the sofa, or I take Cordi downstairs and she starts looking around – I think she’ll always be looking for you. I know it will be like this for a long time still to come. Perhaps always.
I have kept these words inside me because I haven’t had the strength to let them out. I know I’m still not ready because every word is accompanied by a tear.
It’s been a month, and I still miss you. Every day.
At 5am I took you back into my arms. The sun was starting to come up. I lay you in the middle of the bed, still wrapped in the towel. I lay down next to you and I put my arm around you. I wanted to hold you tight but I didn’t want to squeeze you too hard, you never liked being held.
I closed my eyes for maybe an hour. It wasn’t sleep, it was exhaustion. It was not restful. I felt myself fighting a fever. My mind racing trying to make sense of what was happening. I knew before waking that it had not been a bad dream.
Cordi pressed her nose against you, trying to see what was happening. She must have been asking herself a million questions. Where was her sister? Oh there she is? Why is everyone crying? How come she’s letting them hold her, she never lets them hold her? They’d better be careful or she’s going to bite them? Why isn’t she growling? Why is she so quiet? Why isn’t she moving? …Sister?
We called the vet. Told them of your passing. They asked us to bring you in. I held you in my arms one last time as I sat on the bed. Wrapped in the towel you looked so peaceful. Your tiny face. Almost peaceful, only you would never have slept through the noise of our tears. You would’ve woken to see what the fuss was about.
We took the bus even though it’s only a short walk. You always liked the bus. The seat on the right at the back so you could look out the door. We held you as your sister looked out the back window and I started to cry again, her first bus ride without you.
The vet said you looked peaceful. You did. I stroked your fur again and placed my head against yours. Rubbed your neck. You always loved when I did that. Your favourite spot. I ran my hand down your back. Still so soft. My Penny. My pretty girl.
You’ll always be my Penny.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…
I’ve imagined the Rainbow Bridge. When I am done with this world and I’m hopefully destined for the Good Place. I imagine standing there at the bridge, and I look for my Penny.
I know that she won’t be running and playing, not because she can’t but because that would never be her idea of Heaven. There might be the occasional bird she might run after, her little lop-sided run because that’s how she always ran, only now it doesn’t hurt.
I picture myself getting there, and I see her. Coat all shiny. Nose still crooked. No collar on the way she always liked to be. Head down in a bowl of food. I see her first, surrounded by her brothers and sisters.
Her head slowly turns up when she realises everyone has paused. She turns and sees me. She tilts her head to the side the way she always did when I would come home. She sees me, and I smile. My heart is full.
And she bounds towards me and for the first time ever she lets me scoop her up without a fight and I hold her close. She is as soft and as warm and as round as I remember.
My Penny. My heart is finally whole again.