Before we begin a bit of clarification seems in order. This week’s title in no way bears reference, positive or negative, towards the homosexual community. So to be clear it is not mentioned here as a symbolic reference to “coming out of the closet.” As far as I’m concerned I only go into the closet to get pants and fight the occasional boogie man on my grandson’s behalf.
In addition the aforementioned “Rainbow Bridge” should not be confused with Bifröst, the burning rainbow bridge of Norse mythology. This bridge serves as a gateway of passage for those who have died a noble warrior’s death, from Midgard (the world) and Asgard, the realm of the gods. Bifröst is also the subject of a 2002 song by Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth, which should not be confused, with but bears the same title as this article.
Gay pride and death metal aside, what rainbow bridge are we talking about here? “Rainbow Bridge” is the title of a poem by an unknown author written sometime between 1980 and 1992. It tells story of Rainbow Bridge, a green meadow located “this side of Heaven” and an adjoining bridge connecting it to Heaven. It serves as a waiting place for beloved pets that have gone beyond this world. Rather than try and explain the simplistic and sober beauty of this piece I’ll step aside and let it speak for itself. What follows is the original poem “Rainbow Bridge” in its entirety.
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.”
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”
Right now if you have or have lost a beloved four legged friend you’re in teary eyed wonder as to “why.” Why are we indulging an unknown author for a poem that simultaneously puts a smile on our face and ache in our hearts? It is to pay a final tribute to one of our own. Sadly I had never heard of the Rainbow Bridge until my wife Lil Red mentioned it in a Facebook post. That post concerned the passing of her companion of 14 years, a shih tzu who was Nutmeg in both color and name. Of those years the last six were spent in my company as well. In that short time I, who detested the idea of “inside dogs,” came to love this sweet and very lovingly licking little furry person.
Thus we dedicate this week’s article and the poem it contains to all those who have ever loved and lost a pet. More directly for my spouse and specifically to Nutmeg who has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and is, I am certain, napping peacefully whilst she waits.
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