In Loving Memory Of Mooska Johnson

Written by Consta Jenkins

Reprinted by permission of the author

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!!!!"

"Did too doubles!!!!!!"

"AHEM!" Eatbugs tried to pull his face into a stern expression, fearing a laugh would sneak past at any time. "Just WHAT are you two going on about??"

Little Dots thumped his little peeper tail (which sorely tested Eatbugs' facial muscles) and glared at Pouncequick. "We was playing hide 'n swipe 'n I swiped him 'n he says I didn't!"

"Did nots!" Pouncequick, giving a tail thump of his own. "He missed by forty-leven miles!"

"Did nots!"

"Did too!!"

"AHEM!"

The two peepers fell into reluctant silence.

"Now Pouncie, are you SURE he didn't land that swipe?"

"Uh huh."

"Look me in the eye and spit on your paw." Eatbugs had barely passed peeperhood himself when he'd made his trek to the Bridge. He had not forgotten the 'mostest sacredest' of vows.

Pouncequick spit on his paw and looked earnestly at Eatbugs. "He didn't neither swipes me!"

"I see." Eatbugs looked solemnly at Little Dots. "Spit on your paw and tell me you landed the swipe."

Little Dots soberly complied.

"I see." Eatbugs considered the peepers for a moment. "Well, gentletoms, there is only one solution to this problem."

"Whats??" said two peeper voices in unison.

"I'm going to introduce you to a time-honored tradition of hide and swipe. It's called a 'do-over'."

"Dos over?"

"Do over." Eatbugs lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "When two toms cannot agree on the scoring of a point - the point doesn't count and you do it all over."

"Ohssss" said the peepers.

"Now don't go spreading this around. It's only for toms of great maturity and wisdom..."

"Oskay!"

Eatbugs sauntered away to a chorus of "dos overs!".

"You do know you've created two monsters, don't you?" Vito chuckled at the peepers swiping and re-swiping.

Eatbugs laughed. "Well, when the 'do overs' grow as aggravating as the 'dids toos', we'll just have to think of something else."

"Pris just makes them take a nap."

"That was always her solution. I was the most well rested peeper on the planet!" Eatbugs smiled at the memory of his days on the Earth. 'Listy and Golly were all grown up now. He loved to look down on them and remember their great adventures. He noted with some satisfaction that 'Listy still sat on the hockey puck. He'd had his share of peeperish squabbles and do-overs.

"Have you had your kibble yet? I was just off to catch a snack. I promised Pooska and Puffin a game of chasies after. You're welcome to join us."

"Thanks. I'd like that."

The two furriends padded off to the kibble bowls. No one ever pondered the greater mysteries of the Bridge, like how the kibble bowls were always full, but they cheerfully partook of them.

They flicked their tails in greeting as they passed Catsup and Boots bathing in the sun. Panther and Picnic lounged together chuckling over antics of years gone by. Virginia and Isolde, for all their general dignity, were gleefully tail wrestling. Eatbugs grinned. Even the Elders found time for play.

When they'd finished their snack, Eatbugs and Vito headed for the willows. Puffin and Pooska were already there. Puffin had settled quickly into her new life. Eatbugs remembered only too well those days of awe and wonder as he'd adjusted to his life here. The pangs of loss could not last here. Those first few moments of grief quickly faded before the realization that the ones they loved were so very close--as close as a heartbeat--as close as a thought. The rustling leaves spoke in the voice of their humans. It whispered love. The gentle breeze stroked their fur with the same loving touches they'd known in life. Separate and together, parted and as one--the Great Promise bound them to the world below and it kept the ones they loved forever close.

The furriends greeted each other with nose touches, then proceeded in their game. The rules of chasies were nebulous, to say the least, and the furriends contented themselves to merrily gambol through the grass, heading off after that furriend and this one. Eatbugs made off after Puffin and nearly ran over her as she pulled up short. Her eyes grew very round and a cry came up from the depths of her chest.

"Puffin!" Eatbugs headbutted his new furriend. "What's wrong?"

"NOOOOOOO!!!!" Her voice was husky with emotion. "NO!"

Pooska, too, had stopped where he stood. His voice raised in the same heart-wrenching wail.

Eatbugs stared at his furriends, his brow furrowed in worry, when he heard the voice that was not a voice in his mind. "Bring the to the Clearing, Little One."

Eatbugs hung his head. It was too soon. He tried to accept the ways of the Creator, but his heart still cried out when heart-break came upon heart-break, when peepers came too soon, when the grief of the world below laid too heavily on his heart. It was too soon!

"Bring them to the Clearing." The voice was gentle, but insistent.

Eatbugs gently nudged his furriends and silently lead them to the Clearing of the Elders. Isolde and Virginia already wait for them. One by one, the other Elders joined the Circle. Boots and Picnic linked tails with Max and Salt. Smokey and Phillip took their places with heads bowed.

Eatbugs lead Puffin and Pooska to the center. The Elders purred their comfort as the brother and sister settled down.

When all were gathered, they lifted their voices into the wind. They sang of comfort. They sang away the pain of the One Who Comes. They sang words of healing to the hearts that grieved.

Eatbugs raised his voice. He tried to sing with all his heart, but a part of it still ached--still rebelled. He squeezed his eyes shut. With all his heart he wanted to give comfort, but the words echoed in his mind "too soon, too soon." He sang. He wept.

At last, Virginia raised her head. "It is time."

The Elders rose and followed silently behind Puffin and Pooska as they made their way to the Gate.

Tears rolled down Eatbugs' face. The Welcoming Song sang its bittersweet song, but he barely heard it.

"Your heart is heavy, Little One." Virginia's voice carried no reproach, just the same gentle kindness he had grown to love so dearly.

"Why?" Eatbugs choked out the question. "Why? Haven't their hearts ached enough? How many tears must they shed?"

Virginia sighed. "I have no easy answers for you, Little One. We cannot always understand all the mysteries of life. I cannot tell you why one such parting must come so soon upon the other. I cannot even tell you if the Creator planned it so."

Eatbugs looked up at her.

"The ways of the Creator are not for us to understand, Little One. She has given us the world and the ways of it are for our understanding. Each of us has our March of Days, Little One - that is the way of the world. When we have marched the last of our days, we come here. I cannot tell you the why or how of it, that is beyond our ken, but the Great Promise is the Creator's gift to us. The pain of this loss may be great, but it is temporary, Little One. The love that binds us, and the Great Promise, heal the heart, Little One. Love is not transitory. Love lasts forever. We are here, Little One. We wait. We will be together again."

"I know." Eatbugs sighed, "but their pain is so great."

"It cannot be but so." Virginia's voice was soft. "But even in the pain, the Creator has given us balm against our grief. Look around you, Little One."

Eatbugs looked around him. The Company of Kiddens had gathered around the Gate. Hundreds of Kiddens sat, heads bowed, purring their words of love and comfort to the hearts that ached below. Noki and AJ, Creamsickle and Putt-Putt, Max and Dino...together they sat, the kiddens joined by the love bonds formed on Earth.

"Where there is love, Little One, no burden is carried alone." Virginia closed her eyes and lifted her voice into the Welcoming Song.

Eatbugs lifted his as well. His heart still ached for the ones who grieved, but he understood now. Death was a part of life. Grief was the price of love, but the price was small. He felt the tide of love from the Company swirl around him and he knew. Grief cannot hold the heart. The memory of love, the bonds that held were stronger. When the pain of loss faded, the vibrant memories of love would still shine through. He sang with all his heart.

The blue light flashed before the Gate. In its wake sat a beautiful tabby cat. Her fur gleamed silver grey in the light of the Rainbow. Her large golden eyes were bright and clear. She blinked before the Company of Kiddens, and sighed.

Pooska and Puffin ran forward to meet their sister. Mooska returned their headbutts and purred with delight to see her beloved Puffin again. Shyly she accepted the greetings of the Company, as one by one they came forward to present their noses.

When the last of the greetings was given, Puffin led her sister to the Rainbow's edge. "Go on. They can hear you."

Mooska closed her eyes and pursed her whiskers. She gathered all her love and sent her thoughts out into the air. "I'm sorry, Mom and Dad. I wanted to stay...but I couldn't. I'm here. I'm whole. I am waiting."

With that she turned to make her way into her new home.

And on the wind, wafting gently down to the Earth, a hundred kidden voices gently whispered, "We'll take good care of them for you."

© 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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