In Loving Memory Of Peter Blair
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
The leaves of the willow tree rustled softly overhead. Eatbugs closed his eyes and listened to their gentle murmurings, hearing his humans' voices whispering with each soft breeze. It had been so long since he'd walked his days in the sun, but the love bond of his humans surrounded him always, as fresh and pure as in the time before. Such was the Great Promise. Eatbugs smiled and purred his love into the wind, feeling it drift away from him to the hearts of his humans below.
"Morning, Eatbugs." Beethoven padded softly up beside her furriend.
"Are you giving peeper rides today?"
Eatbugs laughed. "No, I about ran my pads off yesterday. Dino and Creamsickle are today's sucke...er... volunteers."
Beethoven chuckled. "You'd think the peepers would get tired eventually. I swear Gypsy nearly had to sit on Little Dots last night to get him to go to sleep."
Eatbugs nodded. "Pounce wasn't much more co-operative. Afraid he'd miss 'somesthings citing!' "
"Of course, *we* were never that much trouble." Beethoven attempted a look of wide-eyed innocence.
"Never!" Eatbugs laughed.
"Come on. Linus and Boots are getting a hockey game going. We need a good goalie." Beethoven stood and smoothed her sleek ebony fur.
The two furiends padded merrily through the soft grass. They waved tails in greeting to Max and Skunk as they passed. Catsup and Spunky were wrestling under the willow tree. Catsup was ahead two falls to one, but Spunky had her in a headlock, bunny kicking with gay abandon. Rocky and Picnic were trading tall tales. Eatbugs smiled. He loved their "mouse that got away" stories.
Everywhere he looked, Eatbugs saw the true spirit of the Company. Kiddens passed their day in joy and laughter, bathed in the warmth of furiendship.
They reached the open field and found Linus and Boots picking teams. Panther and Jasmine were practicing their slap shots. Grace and Lola were enjoying a little pre-game nip. Bilbo and Noki were grooming their claws. Eatbugs and Beethoven trotted over.
"Okay, Beethoven, you're with me." Linus gave her sister an earlick.
"Eatbugs, you'll be goalie." Boots counted his team and turned to start the game.
The puck flew into the air and kiddens bounded wildly after it. Lola slapped it hard, and Jasmine went off in hot pursuit.
Eatbugs stood ready to guard the goal. He watched as Noki deftly swiped the puck from Grace's paws. Just as the jumble of kiddens turned his way, he felt it. Virginia's voice whispered in his mind, "Come, Little One, you are needed."
Eatbugs turned and ran from the field.
"Hey! Where are you going???" Bilbo stood with the puck in his paw.
"It's all right. The game is over for now." Boots bowed his head and followed Eatbugs.
In the Clearing of the Elders, Eatbugs found the Circle gathering. Virginia and Isolde stood solemnly over Dusty Kidden and Pitty Pat. Their siblings formed a ring around them. They sat curled together, their eyes closed in concentration. The Elders bowed their heads and gently lifted their purrs into the wind. Virginia purred a song of warmth and love. Isolde purred of healing strength and gentle passings. Boots sang of companionship and the love of the Company. Eatbugs felt a tear trickling down his cheek as he lifted his voice, singing the Great Promise.
As the final words of their song drifted away towards the earth, Dusty Kidden opened his eyes. "It is time."
The Elders rose and together they made their solemn journey. Side by side they walked. The Company of Kiddens silently joined them as they passed. Hockey pucks forgotten, Beethoven and Linus walked with tails linked. Picnic and Rocky walked with Little Dots and Max. Putt Putt walked with Priscilla and Skunk. The Company, joined by their bonds of love, traveled to welcome another.
At the Gate, the Company formed their Circle. They lifted their voices into the wind and joined the bittersweet refrain of the Welcoming Song. They sang of love and loss. They sang of joy and furiendship, but mostly they sang of the immutable love bond, the Great Promise.
The blue light shimmered across the Gate, and in its wake sat a beautiful black tom. His fur gleamed in the afternoon sun, his eyes bright with wonder.
Dusty Kidden stepped forward and offered his nose in greeting. "Welcome, Peter, to the Rainbow Bridge."
Peter bowed his head. A tear trickled down his cheek. "So soon?" He sighed.
Tina Saavik nuzzled his cheek. "It's all right, Peter. It isn't forever."
"You'll see her again, promise!" Charlie Brown purred and licked Peter's ear. "We'll wait for her together. You'll see."
Peter swallowed hard and nodded. He had heard the song of Promise. He took the paw that Tina offered and stepped forward to meet his new furiends. One by one the Company offered their noses in greeting, and Peter sniffed them all.
When all their greetings had been made, Tina turned to lead him home. Peter paused and looked sadly over the edge of the Rainbow. "But who will smurgle with Mom now?"
"You will." Virginia nuzzled his cheek. "In the quiet places of her heart, she will always feel your love. Other kiddens on earth will feel the stroke of her hand and the love of her heart, but the space you filled there will always be yours. The Creator has promised it. Close your eyes, Peter, and listen with your heart."
Peter squeezed his eyes tight and listened. At first all he heard was the chittering of chirps and the soft, whispering wind.
"Listen with your heart," Virginia repeated quietly.
Then he heard it. His mother was whispering words of love. He felt her warmth of her hand in his fur and felt her love surround him. He squeezed his eyes tighter and thought with all his heart. He pursed his whiskers in concentration, then turned his love into the wind. "I am home, Mom. I am whole. I am waiting."
And then he turned and followed his new friends home.
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