In Loving Memory Of Salt German

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

Eatbugs settled into the tall grass. The sun warmed his fur and the sound of laughter warmed his heart. Puffin frolicked merrily with her new furiends, her suffering on Earth already faded into the painlessness of memory. Pooska passed the hockey puck to his sister with a mighty 'thwack' of his paw. Mouschi intercepted, lunging forward to grab the puck and passing it off to his left. The game was on, with kiddens flying in every direction. Eatbugs suspected that a goodly number of players had no idea where the puck was, but were enjoying leaping and pouncing too much to admit it.

"Not joining the game today?" Virginia settled beside him with her usual grace and dignity.

"No, I promised the peepers I'd coach their tail wrestling. I'm just enjoying a little sun until they're up from their naps."

"Ah naps...Pris said she practically had to sit on them to get them down."

Eatbugs chuckled. "Why should today be different from any other? Nickie is firmly convinced the 'funnest ever' things happen while they nap.'

The hockey puck sailed past Virginia's left ear.

"Oops! Sorry!" Samantha looked sheepish.

Eatbugs batted the puck back into play. "What is the penalty for buzzing an elder?"

Virginia laughed. "You don't want to know!"

The breeze suddenly shifted. The leaves of the willows lifted, rustled like a deep sigh. Virginia cocked her head and listened to voice that Eatbugs could not hear. She bowed her head and sighed.

Eatbugs felt a knot in his stomach. He knew her face so well, and he knew what he saw in it now. "Another comes?"

"Not just any other.' Virginia voice came out in a whisper. "A very old friend comes to join us. Come, Little One."

They padded their way to the clearing of the Elders. Isolde already stood in the center. Picnic joined Grandpa Max. They formed their circle. Just as they started to lift their voices, Eatbugs saw a kidden sitting solemnly at the edge of the clearing.

"Come." Virginia's voice was soft. "It is fitting that you join us."

Mouschi stepped forward...then Puppie and Buzzby. One by one the oldest of furiends came to join the Elders. Phillip gestured for Spunkie and Ebony to sit with him. AJ and Noki sat with Jasmine and Mister. Creamsickle and PuttPutt lifted their voices and the song began.

They sang their words of comfort down to the earth below. Grace sang of the warm summer sun. Freyja sand of the cool evening breezes. Noki sang of the music of laughter. BooBoo sang of the soft velvet grass. Each kidden sang of their life on the Bridge, of their days of companionship, the bonds they shared.

Persefino sang of the soft stroke of hands on fur. Smokey sang of lounging on laps. Peanut sang of the soft loving words of his humans' voice. Each kidden sang of the joys they knew below.

Noki sang of love yet to come. Moki sang of an eternity of tomorrows, al filled with love. Beethoven sang of the immutable bonds to Earth below. Rummie sang of joyful reunions. Claws-a-Lot sang of love never-ending. Each kidden sang of the Creator's Great Promise.

Isolde sang of pain fading away. Lucky sang of strong limbs and bright eyes. Grandpa Max sang of the long March of Days and the journey that now began. Each kidden sang of their journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

Then the Elders turned their voices to the heart of the One Who Comes. They wrapped him in their love, singing comfort, easing fears.

The rest of them turned their song to the Ones Who Stayed Behind. They sang to the hollowness creeping over their hearts. They sang a song of healing, of days to come and love that does not die. They sang of the Creator's Promise, and of their own--to take good care of the One Who Comes for all his days on the Bridge.

At last Virginia lifted her head. "It is time."

They rose and solemnly made their way to the Gate. The Welcoming Song rose in the air around them, drifting its sad, sweet song to the Earth below. The gentle sweet sound washed over the Company as they travelled in twos and threes. They walked with heads bowed, with hearts heavy for the ones who wept below.

They formed their circle before the Gate and lifted their voices into the Song as they waited for the Light.

When it fade, a handsome tabby tom stood looking at the Company before him. Salt closed his eyes and sighed. It was time. He had known it, but he longed to feel his humans' hands one more time.

"You can."

Salt looked up. "Excuse me?"

Virginia smiled. "You can feel their hands. When the breeze passes over your fur, close your eyes...they love surrounds you here. Their voices are in the rustling of the leaves, the soft stroke of their hand in the breeze. We are parted and not parted. Our March of Days in the sun has run, but our March in their hearts, and they in ours, is forever."

"Really?"

"Really." "I didn't get a chance to say goodbye."

Eatbugs nudged his old furiend. "Come on." He led Salt to the edge of the Bridge. "Go on."

"Can they hear me?"

"They will hear you with their hearts. It may take time; their grief is so strong now, but in time they will understand."

Salt turned his face towards the Earth. He gathered all his thoughts and pursed his whiskers. "Mom? Dad? Can you hear me? I'm home now. I'm whole again. Please don't be sad for long. I'll always be here. I'll be in every Rainbow. I'm here and I am waiting."

Then he cocked his head. A familiar scent wafted in the breeze. Salt sniffed the air, then a crooked grin spread over his face. "And Dad? Tell Pepper that thar's ice cream in them thar hills!"

And with that, he turned and made his way into his new home.

© Copyright 1999 Constance Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. The author retains all copyright and intellectual rights to this work. It may not be printed in whole or in part without express written permission.
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