In Loving Memory Of Linus Dubbs
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
Moonlight streamed through the branches of the willow tree, painting the deep grass a silvery gray. Eatbugs stretched out a paw and dug his claws into the rich turf. He squeezed his eyes shut in contentment as he kneaded the grass, thinking of his humans and purring softly into the night air. On nights like this, in the quiet moments, he could feel their hands stroking his fur, and hear their voices in the gentle murmuring of the wind.
"Evening, Eatbugs," purred Jasmine in her soft, luxurious voice.
He opened his eyes and smiled. "Evening, Jasmine."
She gave him a bashful nosey noodle in greeting, then settled herself in the grass beside him. "Are you going out to the stars tonight?"
"Um Hmm," he purred. "Catryn and Alfie are meeting me. Would you like to join us?" His nose leather turned just a shade pinker.
"I'd love to." Jasmine blinked her luminous eyes and smiled at him. "The stars are so lovely tonight."
Together they rose and padded softly to the edge of the Rainbow. Their friends waited there. Jasmine leapt gracefully out into the stars, the others followed. Eatbugs was about to join them when he noticed a kidden sitting off to the side. "Beethoven?"
She looked up at him, her eyes gleaming against her ebony fur were solemn.
"Beethoven, what's wrong?"
"I...I need to go with you."
"Of course you can come with us. Is there anything I can do?" Eatbugs nuzzled her cheek, wanting to ease the tension he felt rippling beneath her fur.
Eatbugs understood. He had felt his humans' sorrow before. He twined his tail around hers and urged her gently towards the stars.
They caught up with others dancing gaily by the light of the stars, and made their way towards the Earth. They formed a circle and looked down over the ones that they loved, those whose love still bound them. Beethoven searched in the night sky for her mother, and felt her sadness growing. The other kiddens gathered in around her and buoyed her with their purrs. Finally she found what she sought, and her breath caught in her chest. There was so much sadness. She had felt it before, each time one of the humanless ones had left her mother's care for the Bridge, but this time it was different. She gathered up all the love in her heart and turned it towards the Earth. "I'm here, Mom, it will be all right."
As the sun's first rays tinged the sky with lavender, the kiddens turned to make their way home. They landed softly on the Rainbow Bridge and found the Circle of Elders awaiting them.
Isolde stepped forward and licked Beethoven's forehead. "Come now, there is much to be done."
Beethoven nodded. "I know," she said in a quiet voice.
She padded along beside Virginia. When they reached the clearing, Beethoven settled herself into the center of the Circle, as the others raised their voices around her. She felt the warmth of their music washing over her, then closed her eyes and turned her mind toward the one below. She purred words of comfort. She felt the songs of the Circle entwining with hers, wafting softly to the one below. Feel no fear, for all is well, it sang. The tender melody that washed away pain echoed in her heart. The Great Promise vibrated in her being, and she sang it with all her love. She felt more than heard the counter melody, deep and resonant, singing comfort to the human heart below. The song built, layer upon layer, reassurance upon reassurance, until Beethoven felt a tingling in her whiskers.
"She has accepted," said Virginia in her gentlest voice.
"It is time." Beethoven stood and nodded at the Circle. "It is time."
Together they rose and made their way to the Gate. Eatbugs walked with Beethoven and Virginia. Picnic and Boots walked with Rocky and Ariel. As they passed the Company of Kiddens fell silently into step with them. Panther walked with Skunk, Creamsickle with Putt Putt. Spunkie and Ebony twined their tails together.
At the Gate they formed their circle, lifting their voices to join the sad, sweet Welcoming Song that drifted in the wind. Eatbugs lifted his head to join when something caught his eye, a kidden sitting shyly off to one side, purring as softly as he could--as if to escape notice. Eatbugs looked at Beethoven and whispered, "Who is he?"
"Oh dear!" Beethoven turned to the kidden. "I didn't think...oh dear but of course." She trotted over to the young tom and nuzzled his ear. "Come, oh please come."
The kidden whispered something to her, and Eatbugs saw her eyes fill with tears. Beethoven nodded and trotted over the rise as fast as she could. When, a moment later, she returned, Eatbugs saw hundreds of kiddens of every shape and color. Shyly they came forward and formed their circle around Beethoven. They lifted their voices into the song and Eatbugs had never heard the Song so beautiful.
The homeless ones sang of pain appeased, of loneliness turned to love...they sang to a special heart that made the Great Promise true for them, too. They sang comfort and love and gratitude.
The now too-familiar blue light danced across the Gate, and in its aftermath sat a beautiful white kidden. Her fur gleamed in the sunlight, her bright eyes scanning the circle before her. She sighed and whispered, "it was time."
Beethove ran forward to greet her sister. Linus took a small step, then stopped and stared in disbelief at her legs. They were strong again. There was no more pain. She leapt forward and bounded to Beethoven's side. "Sister!" she cried.
They nuzzled each other for a moment, then Beethoven stepped aside. "There are others who would welcome you, Linus."
The homeless ones gathered around her, nuzzling her fur, purring in her ears. They promised games of chasies and naps in the sun. One little queen pawed shyly at her nose. "You can plays with me any time you wants to..." she said. Linus laughed and licked her forehead.
The Company of Kiddens then came forward, offering their greetings and promises of joy filled days of companionship. When the last nose leather had been sniffed, the Company turned to lead Linus home. She paused for a moment and said, "I'll be there in a minute." The kiddens nodded and stepped aside to let Linus move to the Rainbow's edge.
She pursed her whiskers in concentration and summoned up all the love in her heart. At last she turned her thoughts into the wind. "I am here, Mom. I am whole. I love you mom, and we are waiting." She turned to join the Company, then paused and laughed. She looked back down on the Earth below and summoned her thoughts once more. "I am waiting, Mom. We are *all* waiting."
With that she turned and followed the Company home.
******** Sleep well, Linus. You leave a legacy of love behind you.
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