In Loving Memory Of Tinky Hubbard
Written by Consta Jenkins
Reprinted by permission of the author
Eatbugs was laying near the gate into Rainbow Bridge. He had played hockey all morning and had spent the afternoon talking with the elder cats. It was now nearly sunset and he was lounging in the sun waiting for his friend Imbri to come by. Eatbugs had been frightened of the big cat when he had first come to the Rainbow Bridge. Imbri was twice Eatbugs' size and had only one green eye, and to a young cat like Eatbugs, seemed quite formidable. Imbri had gotten quite a laugh when he found out how Eatbugs felt. He gave him a clap on the back and said, "Aw, don't you worry little buddy. My growl is worse than my swat". It hadn't taken long for them to become friends. It was Imbri who taught Eatbugs how to walk among the stars and how to listen for the sound of his humans' thoughts. Eatbugs played tag with him and spent hours listening to Imbri's stories of his humans and his kidden sister Tinky, and sometimes they even curled up together for a nap.
Lately, however, Eatbugs had grown concerned about his friend. Imbri seemed different. He hadn't wanted to play chaseys and had spent most of his time among the stars looking down on his family. Eatbugs had asked the elders about it, but they could not help him. They said that Imbri had work these things out for himself. So Eatbugs had waited and worried about his friend. Then last night Imbri had not come back to the Bridge. He had spent the whole night among the stars and didn't come home until morning. He wouldn't eat and when Eatbugs came up to speak to him, he heard Imbri crying softly. Eatbugs had gone away to think. The elders had said to leave Imbri alone, but Eatbugs just couldn't let his friend hurt and not help. So he decided to wait here for him and even if he had to sit on Imbri and hiss at him, he was going to find out what was wrong. Eatbugs set his shoulders in determination, for such a young tom he was awfully stubborn.
The sun was beginning to set and the Bridge was aglow as the colors picked up the last of the sun's light and danced with it. Eatbugs' whiskers twitched as he felt a familiar presence. He looked up to see Imbri coming toward him.
Eatbugs gasped. His friend looked terrible. His fur was still mussed from sleeping and his whiskers drooped. His face was forlorn and his tail held low. Eatbugs renewed his resolve. He could not let his friend go on like this. As Imbri approached, Eatbugs stepped out in front of him. "I need to talk to you," said Eatbugs.
"Please, Eatbugs, not now. I need to get to the stars", Imbri sighed.
"No. Not until you tell me what's wrong.", said Eatbugs, not moving an inch.
"I can't.," said Imbri, "Please, I've got to see my family. I've got to. . ." Imbri sank down to his belly and put his head on his paws. He looked so tired. Eatbugs laid down beside him and gently washed his face.
"Please tell me what's wrong", he said softly, "Please let me help you."
"You can't", said Imbri, "No one can."
They laid in silence together for a few moments. Imbri looked up into the clear blue eyes of his little friend and sighed. He knew that Eatbugs really wanted to help and was worried about him. Finally, Imbri looked down at his paws and started to speak in a quiet voice. "It's Tinky. She's very sick and I think that she will be coming here soon."
Eatbugs nuzzled Imbri's ear and gave him a comforting purr, "I'm sorry, Imbri. But why does that make you so sad? You know that she'll be happy here. And you'll be together again. I know how much you've missed her."
Imbri looked up at his friend, his green eye was filled with sorrow. "She hurts so much right now. She is fighting very hard to stay with our humans, but she is losing. She's so frightened. I want to be there with her! I want to purr for her. I try and try, but she can't hear me. And my humans are so unhappy. Every night I sit in the moon and hear their thoughts and prayers and I want so much to tell them that I will take care of Tinky. But they just can't hear me." He put his head back on his paw and Eatbugs listened quietly as his friend began to cry softly.
"Come on. Let's go." said Eatbugs. Imbri looked up at him with a puzzled expression.
"Why?" sighed Imbri, "I can't make her hear me."
"Well," said Eatbugs, "We'll just have to try harder. I will help you."
Imbri looked at his little friend and smiled. Eatbugs was standing with his shoulders squared and his jaw set in stubborn determination, his faced stamped with that youthful belief that anything is possible. Imbri stood and head-butted his friend. "All right, we'll keep trying until we succeed. I won't let her be alone."
Together they walked to the far side of the bridge, to the place where the Rainbow touched the stars. They looked at each other and then leapt high in the air and made their way through the sky. They played tag across the stars. With each leap some of the sorrow seemed to fall away from Imbri. Eatbugs' youthful conviction was beginning to rub off on him and he believed that tonight they would succeed.
When they reached the moon they sat side by side. Imbri pursed his whiskers in concentration and listened with all his might. He closed his eyes and in his mind the mists cleared and he could see his beloved Tinky. She was so small and so frightened. He gathered his will and sent his thoughts out to her. "Tinky. Tinky, I'm here. It will be all right." She didn't respond. Imbri opened his eyes and sadly shook his head. Eatbugs linked tails with Imbri and said, "Try again." This time, as Imbri gathered his thoughts, he felt Eatbugs' presence. He felt the strength of Eatbugs thoughts joining with his and once more sent his thoughts to earth. "Tinky".
She meowed and moved her head. Imbri's heart leapt with joy. "Tinky, I'm here with you"
"Imbri?" he felt her thoughts and his heart raced. "Yes, little one. I am here."
"Oh, Imbri, I'm so scared." "I know little one. Everything will be all right. You mustn't be frightened. We will be together soon and all the pain will be gone forever. I love you Tinky." Imbri reached his thoughts deep into his little sister. He eased her pain and sent soothing purrs to comfort her fear. When at last she fell into a restful sleep, Imbri drew back into himself. He looked at Eatbugs and together they did a dance of joy across the moon. "IT WORKED!" shouted Imbri at the stars, "IT WORKED!" He did a somersault and then leapt high in the air and twirled around. When he landed he stopped and looked at Eatbugs. "Can we reach my humans? I want them to know that I'll take good care of Tinky."
Eatbugs looked over his shoulder at the earth and said, "I don't know. It's hard to make humans hear us. But we can try."
They linked their tails again and Imbri began to concentrate. He could see his mom. She was so sad and worried and Imbri could tell she'd been crying. He pursed his whiskers and sent his thoughts towards her. "Mom, I'm here. I'll take good care of Tinky. Please try not to be sad. We'll be here waiting for you. I love you mom" His mom looked up towards the moon and sighed. Imbri looked at Eatbugs, "I don't think she heard me." "Maybe she didn't hear your words, but I think she knows you are here. It's hard to reach humans, especially when they are so sad."
As the first rays of morning's light made it's way across the stars, the two friends made their way back to the Bridge. They shared a quiet meal and settled down together to sleep. It was late afternoon when the friends awoke. Imbri stood and arched his back until each vertebra was stretched. He sat and washed his paws and looked at his friend. "I didn't say thank you last night. Thank you" "Aw, that's okay. What are friends for?" said Eatbugs, his nose leather turning just slightly pinker. They walked together in silence as the afternoon sun bathed the fields with amber light. As evening drew near the friends shared a meal and made their way to the stars.
And so the days passed. Each evening as the last of sunset's colors slipped from the sky and the stars winked above the horizon, the two friends played tag across the sky on their way to the moon. Each night they would link tails and Imbri would reach out to his beloved Tinky. He sent her comfort and eased her pain. He explained to her about the Rainbow Bridge and promised her every night that he would meet her there. And each night, after he purred his sister to sleep he would try to reach his mom. Even though he could not make her hear his words, he knew that she could feel his presence. He sent her all his comfort and love. Each morning the friends would return home to the Bridge and share a meal and a nap. They would awake and part company with an unspoken promise to meet again when the sun departed from the sky.
Then one afternoon, as Eatbugs lay in the tall grass with his Aunt Ophelia, the now familiar music that announced a new arrival to the Bridge stirred gently in the breeze. Eatbugs felt Imbri's thoughts flash across his mind. "Eatbugs! It's Tinky!". Eatbugs ran as fast as he could to the gate. He pushed his way past the gathering cats and made his way to Imbri's side.
The Bridge started to glow as the music grew stronger. Eatbugs and Imbri linked tails as a flash of light swept across the Bridge. When the lights and music subsided, a beautiful little Siamese kidden sat on the Bridge. She blinked and looked around her. When her glance fell on Imbri she let out a cry of joy and began to run to him. Eatbugs couldn't help but laugh. She lifted each paw so high as she ran that she looked like she was prancing. Imbri laughed too, "We always called that Tinking!", and he too began to run to his sister. They danced with joy as they reached each other. Imbri gave her head butts and gently washed her face. They played tag as they crossed the Bridge together and Imbri puffed with pride as he escorted his beautiful little sister on a tour of her new home.
That evening, as night crept over the Bridge, Eatbugs sat looking out at the stars. He had left Imbri and Tinky to be alone. He thought for a very long time and then made up his mind. He leapt across to the stars and made his way to the moon. He wasn't sure if he could do it by himself, but was determined to try. He pursed his whiskers and focussed his thoughts. He reached out his thoughts to earth and tried with all his might. "Aunt Barbara?? Can you hear me? You don't know me. My name is Eatbugs. I just wanted you to know that Tinky is all right. She's with Imbri now. Please don't be sad. Whenever you get lonely just look up here. Maybe you can see us playing tag." Eatbugs didn't know if she could hear him, but he was glad he tried. He looked out over the earth and listened to the music of the stars.
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