Published in the Rains County Leader on September 29, 2020:
It’s not unusual for me to turn on my phone in the morning and find a text from my neighbor Connie waiting for me. She has trouble sleeping some nights, and she finds that a good time to catch up on her correspondence. Tuesday morning was a little bit different, though. I received a message in real time at 7:26 AM telling me that Floppy, their beloved canine friend, had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a few minutes before.
David and I dressed hurriedly and walked across the street to pay our respects. We arrived as Charles was closing the grave. David helped smooth out the dirt, and we all watched as Connie scattered some flower seeds on the freshly turned earth. Throughout the day, the gravesite evolved into a site that was outlined by two tiers of fence posts and adorned with a small American flag and a stepping stone with a cross and the first lines of John 3:16.
Later in the week a friend posted on Facebook that her office cat of many years had passed, and the entire staff was grieving. And Friday I found out that another neighbor had lost their sweet Bear a couple of months ago. His grave had been marked with a concrete slab and an embedded plaque with his name and several doggie footprints. We love our fur babies, and it’s hard to say goodbye when the time comes.
But there’s a saying that says, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” The quote is often attributed to Dr. Seuss, but the origin is really uncertain. Still, the truth is there. In all three of the losses this past week, the bereaved owners talked about how much joy their pets had brought. The office cat probably lowered many blood pressures as she allowed stressed real estate agents to stroke her soft fur. Bear was a lot of company to his owners whose grown children are scattered across the Metroplex. And Floppy provided love as she snuggled up to Charles on cold nights, laughter as she chased moles and other wildlife around the yard, and photo ops as her head and shoulders disappeared into holes as she tried to unearth the elusive critters.
I’ve buried a few pets in my time. I’ve always had dogs and/or cats around the house, but when Christian was little, he wanted a pet of his own. Unfortunately, small animals have short life-spans, so after overseeing funerals for Kit Carson the hamster, a couple of his successors whose names I don’t remember, Miss Piggy the guinea pig as well as Precious (also a guinea pig) and several of her babies (she was pregnant when we got her), I put my foot down. No more small animals!
By that time, Christian was responsible enough to have a dog of his own, and before you know it, we were a three-dog family. When he went to college, he decided a cat would be a better apartment pet than a dog, so Miles came to live with him and Snuggles stayed home. Since then, I’ve celebrated new pets with Christian and comforted him through the loss of several others. When David and I married, I brought a Springer Spaniel mix named Lucky into our home. A few years later, we watched Lucky cross the Rainbow Bridge, and then David and I were without four-footed friends until Kitty moved in.
Kitty’s five years old now, so we expect her to have many years ahead of her. She has brought us a lot of fun, love, and pleasure – not to mention writing material. I don’t like to think about losing her – except when she grabs and bites my ankles as she’s been doing for the last few days. But if I had to choose between having to find a spot in the backyard to create a little memorial for her or not having had her in our lives at all, I’d have to go get the shovel and some flower seeds.