Rainbow Bridge

This is neither a preparedness nor a critter body language post.  August 28th is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day (www.felinediabetes.com/poetry.htm) and I want to offer this time to remember all the Babies we’ve loved and lost.

Over my lifetime, I’ve had twenty-four household pets – that’s a lot of Babies that have crossed over the Bridge.  Originally I was a child in a loving home with one-to-a-few pets at a time; but by the time I moved out on my own, I took a brood of seven critters with me.  In the first fourteen months that followed I lost five of those seven – four of which were geriatric and all of whom I’d had all of their lives and half of mine. 

During that year of intense caregiving it took me a minimum of an hour each morning to administer twenty-some meds, including injections and sub-Q fluids, five different diets, some of which frequently involved spoon- or syringe-feeding.  That was nine years ago and I’ve taken in and lost a few more Babies since.

I first learned of Rainbow Bridge during an extended and extensive four-year period of caring for the last pet I lost about three years ago.  Mr. Luke was a gregarious soul – I’m not sure I’ve ever had a pet that more people knew and asked about.  And that’s saying something considering he was a house cat (albeit one that loved to travel)!  An extremely unusual case of diabetes was one of Luke’s multiple life-threatening conditions and I stumbled on to Carol Notermann’s Rainbow Bridge poetry late one night while researching diabetes in cats online out of pure frustration.

The first poem I encountered wasn’t about Rainbow Bridge specifically.  It was written for – and in the voice of – her diabetic kitty in the form of a prayer asking god to help his ‘human bean’ as she struggled to protect and take care of him.  Reading that piece that night hit me square in the chest where it formed a solid mass, migrated up and lodged in my throat, before welling up and over the rims of eyes that quickly became red and swollen. 

Notermann’s words are so exquisitely and uncannily spot on.  Reading them from the pet’s perspective wracks me with sobs to this very day.  I mention the diabetic kitty’s prayer in particular for any readers braving the oft vagaries of regulating a pet’s blood sugar (it can be found on the same URL listed above).

I found and read Notermann’s poems on Rainbow Bridge the same night and, as I sat there with Luke sleeping peacefully by my side, it rocked me to my core for all the Fur Babies I’d lost and would someday join on that grassy field on the other side of the Bridge.  And, of course, I cried for Luke, not knowing how much longer I’d get to travel alongside him on this side of the Path.

The thing about Notermann’s work is that it incites a welcome cry – a cathartic release and a deep sense of warm relief.  It rouses heartfelt memories, adoration, and gratitude for all those lil’ souls I’ve shared my life with.  It seems to wash away any doubt that I’ll see my Sweetpeas again.

I remember asking a pastor in grade school if pets go to heaven. I’ll never know his personal belief, but I’ll never forget his response, “If it’s important to you and your everlasting happiness, then I’m sure there’s a place for pets in heaven.”  Perhaps he was just being kind and diplomatic with a young girl posing a weighty question about the afterlife, but somehow his answer resonated deep in my soul.

For me, a reunion resembling something like Rainbow Bridge is a certainty – a reunion in which I rush toward a throng of furry fans as they bound across the field to greet me, once again welcoming me home as if no time had lapsed since we last had been together. Personally, I’m more certain of that than I am of any specific definition or route to heaven. Notermann’s poems provide, for me, vivid imagery to a place my soul knows it will find one day; and when I do, those reunions will be sweeter and more joy-filled than any ecstasy I can imagine here on earth.

Blessings to you and your beloved Babies, current and past.

Jo Becker is a Portland, Oregon-based speaker and freelance writer.  A seasoned presenter, she’s given animal-related talks since 2012.  Jo’s classes on preparedness (Animals-In-Disaster) and critter body language (Deciphering Doggie Dialects, Cracking the Kitty Code, & Honing Your Horse Sense) offer unique perspectives and practical resources. 

Jo takes an entertaining, personable approach to a ‘doom and gloom’ subject, empowering audiences to consider why and how to prepare for the unexpected and to better communicate with furry friends during good times and bad.

As a dedicated pet mom and surrogate livestock handler when neighbors are away, Jo is passionate about disaster planning for the entire family including our nonhuman friends.

Learn more, register for classes, and sign up for free eNews at www.JoBecker.weebly.com