In Loving Memory Of Black Douglas Kotrla

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

The first rays of the sun reached over the horizon, painting the Rainbow Bridge in vivid hues of lavendar and rose. Kiddens lay curled around each other, still snoozing peacefully in the cool morning air. Eatbugs yawned and slowly opened his eyes. He felt Nickie's warm fur tickling his nose and blew several short breaths to move it. Nickie purred in his sleep and rolled over, his paw draped carelessly over his nose. Eatbugs smiled at his furiend, then stood and stretched. AJ and Noki were tangled up in a knot to his left, snoring happily. Eatbugs padded quietly off so as not to disturb their slumber.

He crossed the grassy fields and made his way to the kibble bowls. The sun crept higher in the sky, adding a warm amber to its palette as he munched. He finished his meal and sat preening his whiskers.

"Morning, Eatbugs," said Boots padding quietly up beside him, "you're up early."

"I like it when it's quiet like this." Eatbugs turned his face to the horizon. "It's so beautiful and I can feel my humans so strongly before the day gets started."

"I know what you mean." Boots closed his eyes and a warm, sweet smile spread over his face. "My mom is just getting up. Hey, look at Katze, will ya? She sure is looking good."

Eatbugs smiled. Mommy Consta was feeding her kiddens and Mommy Mary was playing with a new peeper. Time had so little meaning here, it seemed like only yesterday they'd played with him. Eatbugs let the feeling wash over him, remembering their love and in the deepest part of him, the place of knowing, was lifted by the knowledge that he'd feel their strokes again.

Kiddens slowly began drifting to the food bowls. Morning headbutts were given and nosey noodles passed among the furiends.

"Mornin' Jasmine."

"Good Morrow, Picnic."

"Hey AJ, you gonna leave any kibble for the rest of us???"

Another day on the Rainbow Bridge wound into action.

Eatbugs found a sunny patch of grass and settled himself down. He stretched his paws out in front of him and dug his claws into the luxurious green mat. He squeezed his eyes shut in contentment, basking in the warmth of the sun.

"Hey Mr. Eatbugs!"

Eatbugs opened his eyes. "Good morning, Little Dots."

"Watchya doin'?" The peeper's face was a picture of innocence.

"Not much, why?"

"Ummm...." Little Dots pawed at the grass. "Ummm... I was kinda wondering if...ummm...."

"If?"

"Iffin I could pounce on your tail some? Please Mr. Eatbugs?"

Eatbugs laughed, nodded, and started swishing his tail. "But watch the claws this time, okay?"

"Wheeeeeeee" Little Dots butt wiggled ominously before launching into a might pounce.

The game continued for some time, and with several admonitions about claws and fanfs, until Eatbugs felt a tugging at his whiskers. He froze for a moment and listened to the quiet place within his mind. "Come, Little One, you are needed."

Eatbugs stood up and patted Little Dots on his way. He padded quickly to the Circle of the Elders. He had not felt the tingling, but the Elder's call left a chill in his heart. Some kidden was in need and Eatbugs feared that another would come shortly. So many Welcomings, it tore at his heart. Even though he knew it was the way of all things, and understood the Great Promise in his heart of hearts, each new arrival brought with it the pain of the passing.

He reached the Circle and found the Elders gathered around Persefino. Eatbugs bowed his head.

"Come, Little One," Isolde said, "our comfort is needed below."

Eatbugs drew himself into the Circle and prepared to give comfort to a kidden below.

Virginia looked deeply into his eyes, "Our mission is different today, Little One. There is no comfort we can give to this kidden. His suffering will be short and his passage soon over. It is to the humans below we must send strength."

Eatbugs looked at her. "There is no comfort we can give to the kidden?"

Virginia shook her head. "As was your passage, Little One, this kidden's march in the sun must end suddenly. It is the way of all things and cannot be changed."

"No," Eatbugs cried, taking a step back, "We can warn him." The image of his own mad dash into danger flashed before his mind. "We can stop him. It doesn't have to happen."

Isolde nuzzled him gently. "No, Little One. Would that we could, but as with us all, his march of days in the sun must come to an end now. We will give him strength when it is time, but now we must look to his humans. We must send them strength and we must make them understand the Great Promise. There is one among his humans who has not known this hurt before. We must ease her way."

"But why," Eatbugs asked in an anguished voice. "Why does it have to be like this?"

"It is a question without answer, Little One," said Virginia. "We cannot always understand the way of the Creator. We can only accept. The world is a strange and dangerous place and even with all the love our humans bear us those dangers can still find us. This kidden was well loved. He knew a joyous walk in the sun among humans who cherished him. His time is over now, but you know it is not the end. We will care for him here until his humans come for him again. It is the Great Promise, Little One, given to us by the Creator since the beginning of all things. Come now, let us do what we can."

Eatbugs stepped again into the Circle. The kiddens closed their eyes and bowed their heads. Persefino found the hearts of his humans and began to purr. The Elders joined in his refrain, sending love and strength to the human hearts below. They purred of the Great Promise, of the immutable nature of love. They sang of the joy of reunion and the cherished memories of love.

At length, Persefino opened his eyes. "Do you think they understood?"

"Not yet, but they will. They cannot help but grieve, dear one, as they grieved for you. Time must work its healing, but they will understand. They will feel the love you send and it will ease them through this time."

Eatbugs felt the familiar tingling in his whiskers.

"It is time," Virginia said solemnly.

The Circle rose and padded silently toward the Gate. The Company of Kiddens joined with them as they traveled. Skunk and Gypsy walked with Ebony and BooBoo. KiKi and Der walked with Beethoven and Noki. One by one, all of the kiddens bound by the love of their humans made their sad journey once more.

They gathered before the Gate, heads bowed and purrs lifted into the Welcoming Song that drifted in the wind. Love and warmth flowed down to the earth below. Messages of strength went out to the kidden whose days in the sun drew to a close. Songs of love and healing poured out to the aching human hearts left behind.

The flash of blue light shimmered away, leaving a tom cat standing blinking in its wake. He stood staring blankly at the Company before him.

Persefino padded quietly before him and nuzzled him gently. "Welcome to the Rainbow Bridge, BD," he whispered in a husky voice.

BD stood transfixed for a moment, then started to take a step forward. He froze in his tracks, then looked down at his legs. Four! He had all four. He looked up into Persefino's eyes and the light of understanding filled his own. He sighed.

"It will be all right now," said Perse. "You are home."

BD looked back over the Rainbow and felt a tugging at his heart. "But they hurt so much," he said softly.

"We will help them through their pain. In time they will understand."

Perse led BD to the edge of the Bridge and looked down on his humans. "Come on. Concentrate hard and they can hear you."

The two kiddens pursed their whiskers and turned their thoughts back toward the Earth.

"Mom? Candas? Stacey? Can you hear me? I'm okay now, honest. I got four legs! Mom? I love you. I am home now and I will wait."

They opened their eyes and turned back to the Company of Kiddens. Introductions were made, nosey greetings given, as promises of games in the sun and naps in the shade were made. BD was barely aware of the cares of the Earth slipping from him. He promised to help Picnic with peeper rides and assured Nickie he really did like hockey.

"Hey Mister."

BD looked down into a solemn peeper face. "Yes?"

"Can I pounce on you tail?"

The Company of Kiddens laughed as they led their new furiend home.

© Copyright 1996 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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