My best friend died on Monday, the nineteenth of January 2009, at exactly 3:33 p.m. while I was rushing her to the doctor. She was born with an enlarged heart, a heart which abruptly failed after serving her well for more than 12 years. The friend that died was Annie, a beautiful long-haired calico cat, and a loved and loving member of our family for more than 10 years.
Sue, a dear friend who lives in Alabama, learned of our loss and sent a beautiful sympathy card and a touching consolation e-mail. After reading my response, she sent the following e-mail:
“My heart continues to go out to you and Janie—it truly does take time for a broken heart to heal. Thank you for the touching e-mail and for sharing your heart with me. What a blessing you, Janie and Annie all were to one another—truly one of life’s most precious gifts. I look forward to seeing you both again sometime this year. Meanwhile, keep in mind when you see Annie again, you’ll be seeing Cindy and me also—we’re a package deal.
“With so much heartfelt love, Sue.”
This e-mail was my belated response to Sue’s initial card and e-mail:
“Sue, please forgive us for not responding sooner to your heartfelt e-mail and your beautiful card. Janie and I have had a difficult time dealing with Annie’s death. We have just now been able to discuss her without both of us breaking down. We see her in every room and in every position, and hear sounds, especially during the night, which remind us of her and, for an ever-so-brief moment, bring her back to us. We have had other pets and loved them all, but before Annie we never knew that a creature’s love could be so deep and strong and forgiving, and that such love could be demonstrated in so many ways.
“Annie and I were a couple for ten years, and we remain a couple. Since her death I have come to realize that she and I were, and still are, soul mates, and I believe that our separation is temporary. Yes, I believe that animals have souls, and it appears that Pope John Paul II agreed with me. That can be confirmed at this web site:
“I’ve spent a lot of time online recently. I found a poem, one so sad that it broke my heart, but it is so uplifting that at the same time my heart was breaking, my spirit soared. The poem can be found, with numerous variations, on many web sites by googling “rainbow bridge poem.”
Here is the poem in its entirety:
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
“When a pet that has been especially close to someone here dies, that beloved pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all 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 that were ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those that were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one thing; they each miss someone very special to them who was left behind.
“They all run and play together, but the day will come when a special one—the most special among the special—will suddenly stop and look into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent. Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she leaves the group and begins to run, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.
“Annie has spotted me, and when we meet we will cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. Her happy kisses will rain upon me; my hands will again caress her, and I will look again into the trusting eyes of my Annie, so long gone from my life but never absent from my heart.
“Then we’ll cross Rainbow Bridge together. . .”
I took the liberty of changing the poem to make it personal—it wasn’t easy—making the changes was difficult and the tears flowed freely, but the physical catharsis provided some psychological relief—albeit temporary.
Thank you, Sue, for the sympathy and understanding expressed in your e-mail, and thanks for the beautiful card. You’re one of a select group of people, quite rare, who can convey their most profound feelings to others—willingly, unsolicited and without hesitation. Janie and I are proud of your friendship for us and for Cindy (our favorite daughter, but don’t tell the other two!).
May God bless you and keep you—you’re always welcome in our home.
We’ll leave the light on for you.
May 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm
I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting precious Annie, and she was as beautiful as she is in the photos shown. Sometimes I consider animals to be God’s greatest creation because they appear to me to be sinless. Of course, I’ve heard it said that animals cannot “reason” as humans do. I beg to differ when I watch my own cat, Matilda, whine and whine until she gets her way! There is yet another kitty to come into your hearts and home because after all, God made us to love and care for his precious animals (Proverbs 12:10—“A righteous man cares for his animals…”).
May 30, 2009 at 11:26 pm
Thanks for the comment, Sue. You may well be right about another kitty eventually becoming part of our lives. Right now we have a proxy, a yellow and white short-hair named Rudy—I believe he is acting as a “proxy pet” until another joins our family. Rudy lives directly across the street, and gallops over to visit us when we open our front door. He doesn’t hustle across the street several times every day looking for food—we have never fed him at our house. He comes over because he hates to miss an opportunity to have his ears warmed up and his back scratched, and to hear us tell him what a handsome stout fellow he is.
June 9, 2009 at 10:40 pm
Oh what a beautiful lady your Annie was. I’m so sorry for your loss and understand the connection you felt and the pain you are going through. Both dear Sue and your daughter Cindy were with me when I said goodbye last August to my own furchild feline, Xena. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without the the two of them. What angels they are. Oh how I love The Rainbow Bridge poem. I was at a website reading it after the loss of my former cat 11 years ago, and stumbled upon a site looking for a new “person” to adopt Xena. Who knows, maybe the time will come that I start looking for a kitty again. I’m glad your Annie was such a joy in your life and thanks for sharing her story.
June 10, 2009 at 1:24 am
Hi, Karen—thanks for your kind and understanding comments, and thanks for your friendship with Cindy. Friends such as you and Sue help to bridge the distance between us and our daughter. Just knowing that you are always there for her takes away a lot of our worries.