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The Rainbow Bridge - For Michael


Michael knocked softly at his sisters house. She opened the door with a crumpled tissue in her hand. His sister looked bone tired and he could tell she'd been crying.

"How long ago did you tell him?" asked Michael. "When he got home from school," she said. "He's in his room. He said he wanted to be alone. What with his Dad out of town until tomorrow night..." she looked at her brother for help and her voice trailed off.

"It's OK," said Michael, putting his arm around his sisters shoulders, "I'm glad you called. I'll tell him about it. It doesn't matter which one of us tells him. Just as long as he knows."

Michael tapped on Timothy's bedroom door and then opened it just wide enough to stick his head in. "Hey Buddy," he said quietly. "May I come in?" Tim was lying on top of the bedspread with his pillow over his eyes. His jeans looked as if he'd been playing softball and there was a smudge of dirt on one arm. One of his sneakers had the laces tied, the other had what looked like a dangling ribbon of mud hanging off the side of the bed. At the sound of his Uncle's voice, Timothy sat up and wiped his eyes on the shoulder of his striped T-Shirt.

Timothy took a ragged breath and with a gravelly voice, replied "Yeah, sure, come on in."

"You wanna talk?" asked Michael. Timothy shrugged and shook his head, but a moment later he tried to speak. .".Jack... Jack was my friend..." he began. Timothy tried to hold the tears in and couldn't manage it. Michael gathered the sobbing boy into a great bear hug.

"I know, sport," Michael said. He glanced around the room. " Isn't that Nana's old rocking chair?" he asked. Timothy hiccuped and nodded. Michael's sister tiptoed into the room with a cold, wet washcloth in her hands. "Grab a chair, Sis," he said. Michael himself sat down in the well-worn old rocker. "C'mere, kid," he said, and held out his arms. "I'm not a baby," said Timothy. "Nobody said you were," said Michael. "But then again, nobody ever gets too big to need a hug." "Sit," he said, patting his knee. "I'm going to tell you where Jack is."

"I know where he is," said Timothy, angrily. "He's dead. And they're going to dig a hole and bury him and I'm never going to see him again, ever." He started to cry again.

"Wrong, my friend," said Michael softly. He took the washcloth from his sister and began wiping Timmy's eyes and forehead and snuffly nose with it. "Lean back, put your head on my shoulder," he said, and as he rocked, Michael began to tell an old, old story.

"Just this side of heaven," began Michael, "...is a place called the Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the valley at the edge of the Rainbow Bridge."

"Your dog Sheba died," said Timothy sadly. "Did Sheba go to the Rainbow Bridge?" For a moment Michael stopped rocking and had a far away look in his eyes. Then he swallowed hard and nodded. "Sheba was with me for well over twenty years, kiddo. She met me at the school bus every day, I introduced her to my first date, she rode on my first motorcycle.." he laughed softly at the memory, "I dressed her up in an aviator scarf and a pair of goggles. She loved it." He smiled, remembering. "The guys and I even took her on a run in the fire engine once or twice. Heck...I almost took her skydiving," he said, amazing even himself. He shook his head with a rueful grin. "Buddy, that little girl was with me ever since I was a kid. We did everything together."

"What about kids," asked Timothy, gravely. "Are there kids at the Rainbow Bridge too?" Michael's smile faded. He put his arms around the boy and patted his head. "Sometimes," nodded Michael. "Yeah son, sometimes there are little kids there too."

Michael began rocking again. "At the edge of the Rainbow Bridge, Tim, there are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There's plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. The ones who had been ill and old, like Sheba, are again restored to health, so that they can run and jump and play once more. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just the way we remember them in our dreams.

At the edge of the Rainbow Bridge, both Sheba and Jack and all the others are happy and content, except for one small thing: they miss someone very special to them; someone who had to be left behind."

"Sheba left you behind," said Timothy, tears welling up in his eyes again, "...and Jack left me behind." He buried his head in his uncle's shoulder.

"Yeah, son, but I had to leave Sheba behind when I went away to school. And Jack couldn't go everywhere with you either. Sometimes you have to be apart for a while."

"What happens at the Rainbow Bridge?" asked Timothy in a muffled voice. "Pretty much the same thing that happened while you and I were away at school," explained Michael. "Pets and little kids all run and play together."

"But one day, far off on the horizon, a figure will appear. And suddenly, there will be a pause in the play as they all stop to study the figure in the distance, watching for a familiar walk, listening for a particular whistle. Even from so far away, one of them will recognize the figure and begin to quiver with excitement. The others will smile to themselves, as they watch the one suddenly break away from the group, and go flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster."

"One day, it will be Sheba who recognizes me off in the distance. And when that happens, we'll never be apart, ever again. She'll come tearing across the field and leap into my arms. She'll plant little wet dog kisses all over my face; and I'll stroke her head, and rub her ears, and I'll be able to look into those beautiful trusting eyes once more. She's been gone from my life for a long time, Timmy, but she's never been gone from my heart. When that time finally comes, boy, Sheba and I will cross the Rainbow Bridge together." Michael brushed the hair out of Timothy's eyes. "That's what will happen with you and Jack, Buddy. You haven't lost him. He's right there waiting for you. However long it takes, he'll still be right there waiting."

Timothy looked up into his Uncle's eyes "Is that the truth, Uncle Michael, the really, truly, honest to goodness truth?" he asked solemnly. Michael looked directly into Timmy's eyes and nodded his head. "True story, son," he said.

Timothy's mother stood up and walked across the room. She ran her hand softly over her brother's head. "Thank you," she said simply. She looked closer, then took her hand and gently brushed a tear off her brother's cheek.

"You still miss Sheba, don't you Mikie?" she asked. "Yeah..." he said, looking up at her with a wistful smile.

"But I know right where she is. She's at the Rainbow Bridge. Showing Jack around."



In our considered opinion, Timothy's Uncle Michael is right.

Michael and Sheba  - 12.5 K
It's a true story.

The Rainbow Bridge - For Michael by Cynthia Loomis Gurin
Copyright 1996 - All Rights Reserved

Authors Note: Stories about a place called the Rainbow Bridge
have been passed down from parent to child all over the world,
in one form or another, for a number of years.


The Rainbow Bridge for Michael is part of a warm and sensitive collection of stories

 
  • Mommy Make The Feather Dance
  • Collector of Tears
  • The Rainbow Bridge--for Michael


Children of The Rainbow Bridge - A Quiet Memorial


 About the author:

Cynthia Gurin lives in South Florida with her husband Bob, a quartet of cats, two dogs, a remarkably wise duck, and a teddy bear or two. She has achieved recognition in both the Miami Herald and The Wall Street Journal for innovative marketing techniques. She considers the Personal Ad, through which she met her husband, to be her most rewarding literary endeavor. She holds a senior corporate position in the real world. Send Mail

A special thank-you from the author:

So very many of you have written to tell me how deeply you've been touched by The Rainbow Bridge---For Michael
I've received letters literally from all over the world. Thank you all so very much for taking the time out of your day to tell me how this one simple tale has helped you cope with the loss of one very dear to you.
With warmest regards,
Cynthia

Other stories by Cynthia Gurin: See Directory


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