The Occasions Lady and The Promise of The Rainbow Bridge

Brittney Osborn


The Occasions Lady and The Promise of The Rainbow Bridge

by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Osborn 

In March, our family said goodbye to our beloved dog, Bella, a loving and loyal Shih Tzu that became a part of our family nearly 16 years ago.

Bella was a life changer for us. After unexpectedly finding myself as a single mom raising three kids in 2008, I realized that the four of us were avoiding being at home. We would go out to eat, visit family members, attend school events –but being at home was tough.

While the kids were at home with their babysitter, Faith, they talked her into taking them to look at puppies. Emma, who was 11 years old at the time, knew just enough about the internet and computers to search for dogs. When I came home from work one day that summer, they begged me to take them to Memphis to see a puppy. I caved, and Adam, Emma, Sophie and I were soon headed east to retrieve the newest member of the family.

From the moment we brought Bella in the door, she turned our house into a home once again. Friends came over to meet her and bring her gifts. Home was no longer a place we avoided. She quickly transformed it into the place we all wanted to be.

Simply put, during those difficult days, Bella saved us.

During her last days, Bella had whatever she would eat to help avoid the hypoglycemic seizures that were taking their toll. Dr. Mark Lawrence and the staff of Woodsprings Animal Clinic had instructed us to give her honey to raise her blood sugar but finding food to entice her was becoming increasingly difficult. As my daughter, Emma said, in true Bella fashion, she lived like a little princess to the end. She preferred her honey on certain items: pizza crust from none other than Papa Cella’s Pizza Chef, crackers from Chicken Salad Chick and McDonald’s chicken McNuggets. So, that’s exactly what Rodney and I fed her, one bite at a time.

For many years, I have heard friends post about the Rainbow Bridge after losing a pet. What I didn’t realize was that the term came from a poem. Pets become our family and they often fill voids that we didn’t even know needed to be filled. I have no doubt that they give much more than they get, even the ones we manage to spoil.

In researching the poem, I discovered that Edna Clyne-Rekhy of Scotland wrote Rainbow Bridge in 1959. She was 19 years old and grieving the loss of her Labrador Retriever, Major. The poem’s popularity grew in February 1994 when a reader from Grand Rapids, Mich., sent a copy of “Rainbow Bridge” to be published in the Dear Abby column. At the time, the author was unknown. Only recently did Clyne-Rekhy learn of the worldwide popularity of her beloved poem and its importance to the world of those morning animals. May it continue to bring peace and comfort when we need it most.

The Rainbow Bridge by Edna Clyne-Rekhy

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, your 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 friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and strength, those who were hurt are made better and strong again, like we remember them before they go to heaven. They 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 shining, his body shakes. Suddenly he begins to run from the herd, rushing over the grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cuddle in a happy hug never to be apart again. You and your pet are in tears. Your hands again cuddle his head and you look again into his trusting eyes, so long gone from life, but never absent from your heart, and then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.