The Rainbow Bridge

For some reason, I have been overcome with emotion today thinking about Josie. She is heavy on my mind. Maybe it’s the beautiful weather, 80 degrees, sunshine, and the blatant absence of Josie by my side. I have cried more today than I have in the past two weeks. Maybe it’s because I saw Debbie yesterday and I had to break the news to her. Debbie was the only person who could come to my house and take care of Josie if I needed her too, and more importantly, Josie would let her.

I want to plant something in my yard that will remind me of Josie – not that I need any reminders because she is everywhere in my world, but I thought something in my garden that would be cheerful, and bring a smile to my face whenever I look at it. I thought about knock-out roses – Debbie thought of a butterfly bush. I think I will plant both.

So, in the effort to move forward, I need to get past the date of Josie’s death.

March 21, 2011 –
I had been sleeping on a pallet in the floor with Josie to be right there in case she were to need me.  She woke me up around 4:30 with her breathing. I could tell it had become more labored. I picked her up and put her on my chest. The vet had told me if fluid had gotten into her lungs, she would sit up in the effort to get more air. She laid on my chest for a little, then she sat up a while, until she could no longer hold herself up. She had gained about 3 pounds from all the fluid she had been given (and none was expelled) and didn’t have the strength to sit for long. I moved to the sofa – me sitting up and holding her to try to make it easier on her.  At 5:30, I could tell a change, and not for the better. I took her outside (holding her) and we walked around the deck, in the front yard, where she liked to dig in the garden, etc… just some quiet time alone – and so she could hear the morning birds. When we came back in, I held her, eye to eye, and told her that if it was time for her to go, to go. It would hurt like hell for me, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being without her, but after a while, I would be alright. I told her I loved her with all my heart and soul. I held onto her until 7:00 or so. David came in to check on us, and he could tell just by looking at me, this was it. We thought we were going to have to make “the decision.” He sat with her while I took a shower and he too was growing concerned with her breathing. We wanted to get to the vet right when they opened. In the shower, I cried, and prayed to God, that if it was time, to please take her swiftly and painlessly and selfishly, to take her at home. I could not bear the thought that I was going to have to make the decision to put her down.

Just as I got out of the shower and dressed, David called out to me. Hurry, Josie was in distress.She was lying on her sleeping bag.  I grabbed her up, and held her tight, and I knew this was the end. I wanted her last moments on this earth to be in my arms, feeling my heart beat. And they were. She died in my arms at 7:50am.

I was inconsolable. I couldn’t let her go.

I held her for a while, and we finally made the journey to the vet. I called ahead to tell them we were on our way, that Josie had lost her battle. I took her in, and into the back where she had spent so many hours of the last few days. I laid her on the table, and took in all that I could, one last time.

Josie was cremated, and she’s back at home. My family has been instructed that when I die, her cremains are to be added to mine. My heart is completely broken in two.

I had always heard about “the Rainbow Bridge” and the poem… it’s kind of corny, but in a weird way,  it has been a little comfort to me. I never thought about this before  –

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. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her 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….



This entry was posted in Dogs, Grief, Pets and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Rainbow Bridge

  1. Jennifer Collins says:

    Ann… My heart is broken for you already but as I read this blog I truly begin to feel the pain you are in and I just want to give you a big hug. I am also walking where you are right now as I lost my pet of 12 years just after Christmas. I admire you for sharing your pain and story with us… I do hope that your grief begins to ease up. I still tear up when I think of my Gabriel, but am slowly beginning to smile as I reflect on the warmth and companionship he brought to our family. I am so incredibly sorry that you lost Josie. Thank you for loving your pet so deeply and being so transparent with your grief. None of us are alone as we grieve – we have all been there and can walk together. Love you!

    • Knowing how much you loved Gabriel, I know you can feel my pain. It seems to be getting harder for me than any easier. I shed a tear or two everyday, but some days (like yesterday) they just flow. When Josie died, someone quoted Queen Elizabeth (of all people) – “grief is the price we pay for love.” I’m broke to say the least. Thanks for listening – and for being there for me. Love you!!

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