In Loving Memory Of Grace Woodruff
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
Eatbugs was sitting under the willow tree, listening to sweet song that danced always in the wind on the Rainbow Bridge. It's voice filled the air and sang to him of love and warmth. In the busy moments of the day he was only marginally aware of it, but in the quiet times it washed through him. When he closed his eyes, it sang to him of Mommy Consta's ear scritches and Mommy Mary's lap, of the love his big man, of playing hockey with his siblings, and of all the joys and love he had known on Earth. He had spoken to Imbri about it, and Imbri said it sang to him of his home and family. The windmusic seemed to sing to everykidden their own special song of love. When he asked Virginia about it, she had smiled her wise smile and said, "Don't you know what the song is, Little One? It IS love of our humans. Their love and their memories of us resonate in their hearts, and traveling through time and space, it makes it's way to us...". And so Eatbugs sat, lingering a moment to feel the love of his humans again.
His reverie was broken by the squall of a peeper. "Where IS EWERBODY?", it wailed. Eatbugs trotted over to the tall grass to find Nickie sitting dejectedly. "What's the matter, Nickie?".
"We were gowoing to pway a game and ewerbody weft. <sniff>".
"Oh my, that doesn't sound right. Did you see where they went?".
"Uh uh. They made me cower my eyes and count to ten...<sniff>".
Eatbugs chuckled in spite of himself. "Um, Nickie, did they tell you WHAT game they wanted to pway, er play?".
"Oh, well there's the problem. Have you ever heard of Hide and Seek?"
"OH! OWWIE OWWIE AWW COME FWEE", bellowed Nickie.
Eatbugs left the peepers to their game and padded off to find a patch of sun. He nodded to Rocky and Max as he passed and came at last to the sunning spot. Little and Charlie were deep in conversation with Marmalade. Pris and Putt Putt were grooming each others' ears. Eatbugs nodded to his furriends and settled down in a spot beside Skunk and Beethoven. Nodding to his furiends in set about to munch a bit of grass. He had only begun to savor his first mouthful of the sweet delicate grass when he felt the familiar tingling in his whiskers. He bowed his head in silence for a moment and then stood to make his way to the Gate.
Quietly he padded along, to once again welcome another to the Bridge, lost in thought. He listened to the song of the wind, and it still sang to him of ear scritches and tummy rubs, but it's melody slowly began to sing of loss and sorrow as well. He looked up to see Virginia and Isolde walking silently beside him. "Why does my windsong sing of sorrow? Is it one of my family that comes?" he asked, his brow furrowed in worry.
"No, Little One, it sings of sorrow because all of our humans feel the sorrow of each kidden's passing. We were all loved by our own humans, Little One, but we were bound together by the love of many when we walked our walk in the sun. Listen, do you hear the beginning of the Welcoming Song?"
Eatbugs listened, "Yes, I hear it...it is so very sad".
"That is the sorrow of this kiddens human. Her heart is breaking with his loss. It is her heart that weaves the Welcoming Song....our songs can only echo it. Now listen. Do you hear the counterpoint?".
Eatbugs listened and heard the windsong dance through the sky with it's song of welcome and love and warmth. He nodded. "That, Little One, is the song of the Great One as she calls her children home. The Song is always bittersweet because it signals the end of a march of days in the sun for one of us, but it also renews the Great Promise and signals the end of all suffering."
As they came to the Gate and took their places, Eatbugs looked at the Company of Kiddens. It had grown so much... Creamsickle and Putt Putt sat with Spunkie and Ebony. Sweet Pea sat with her tail curled around Sweetie. Katie and Freyja sat with Smokey and Mouschi. Rocky and Picnic, surrounded by peepers, sat with their heads bowed. So many furiends now in the Company. Eatbugs bowed his head too.
The Welcoming Song swelled in the air around them and the light in the gate shimmered into the oh-too-familiar blue flash. In it's wake sat a small grey tomcat. He blinked for a minute and then looked out over the Company. "So this is what it looks like", said Grace, as Eatbugs approached to give greeting, "I've been seeing it in my dreams...sort of. I knew it was time for me to come."
Eatbugs touched his nose in greeting and said, "You'll like it here. I promise."
"Is there a tall willow with sweet grass underneath it? I dreamed I was sleeping there".
Eatbugs nodded, "and a tall grassy field for playing in and catnip patches and all sorts of trees. The willow tree is my favorite though".
Grace looked around and knew he was home. "I am going to miss my Mom", he said wistfully.
"But you'll see her again and you can feel her love everyday. And you will be together again, that is the Great Promise". Grace nodded and looked back over the Earth. "She misses me too."
Eatbugs took him by the paw and led him to the side of the Bridge. Isolde and Virginia stepped forward to join them, and all the kiddens of the Company gathered in close. Together they raised their purrs into the wind to help Grace send his message home, the message that each in turn had sent to their humans below. Grace lifted his voice to the wind and with all of his heart sent his love back to Earth with the simplest of words, "I love you mom, and I am waiting".
And then he turned and surrounded by his new furiends, made his way home.
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