a. abbie aardmore

Tales from the Rainbow Bridge

Tales from the Rainbow Bridge is a story of heartbreaking loss and
joyous reunions as told by Zack, a dog, the greeter at the Rainbow Bridge,
as he waits for his own beloved companion to take him the rest of the way home.
The endings are all happily ever after—but you must cry to get there.

Contact Abbie: abbie[at]talesfromtherainbowbridge[dot]com



My name is Zack. I'm the gate dog at the Rainbow Bridge.

That makes it sound like I'm some kind of guard dog. It's not like that.

I'm the greeter.

There wasn't any such position as greeter before I got here. And I only got the job because I won't leave the gate.

This is not heaven. It's the place for those of us who can't go to heaven yet, because it can't be heaven without our special person—our mom, our dad, master, mistress, owner, best friend—whatever you call the one you love more than life, and who holds your memory in her or his heart.

If you are a beloved dog or the human heart holder of a dog, I'm the first one you see when you come here at life's end.

I'm waiting for Mireille.

The memory of my arrival is still vivid.

I came through the gate backwards, kicking and howling, so frantic I didn't notice it was impossible that I could actually move my legs.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's my story just as it happened.

Chapter One

We are sitting on a pile of blankets—me and Mireille. We're on the floor of the vet's office. Mireille is holding me. She's petting me and kissing me. I'm not wearing my collar. I feel naked without it. I guess Mireille knows that I can't get up. I can't get into any trouble, so I don't really need the collar.

I got ice cream before we came here! You need to understand, I never, never get ice cream. And I got a cheeseburger all to myself. I'm not allowed cheeseburgers. Anything I wanted this morning, I got.

I'm getting drowsy now.

I lie in Mireille's arms. I wish she would stop crying.

The vet is doing something. I really don't care what he does. I don't hurt anymore.

I feel a little cold. Mireille is warm. She's trying to sing to me, but her voice keeps breaking. I feel her sobs.

Her tears slip down onto my muzzle.

I feel weird. I'm getting kinda scared.

I'm dizzy. I'm floating.

I look down. There's Mireille sitting on a pile of blankets on the floor of the vet's office. She's holding a lumpy, graying, worn sack of shabby fur that looks a little like me. It's a wreck of an animal. Why is she hugging that thing?

Because that's me!

Whoa! Creepy head weave I'm making down there. I'm lurching side to side. It scares Mireille. She holds me tight. She's bleating. She stops my wild swaying.

Mireille's got me. My tongue is hanging out the side of my mouth. I look stupid. This is just too awful.

Okay. That's it! "Mireille, let's go home now!"

I'm better. I'm better. I am so much better.

I'm feeling light.

I'm floating up and away from Mireille. She's still holding the empty husk down there.

I howl in strong full voice, "Mireille! Mireille!"

Something is pulling me back and up and away towards a brightness.

I roar, "Let me go! She needs me!"

I am getting stronger. Those lumps are gone from my neck. I'm good! I'm all better!

"Mireille! I'm up here! Put that ratty thing down! Stop crying and take me home!"

I see her as through a tunnel—and it's closing. Mireille is down there, hugging that shabby, furry bag.

The vet is listening through his stethoscope to the worn hollow chest of the thing that looks sort of like me. He pronounces the words. "He's gone. I'm so sorry."

"No! I'm here! I'm right here!"

The passageway is getting narrower and narrower. Mireille is farther and farther away. I'm rising backwards as if dragged. Wherever I'm going, it's light and warm.

I can't do light and warm right now! I've got to get back down through that dark passage before it shuts me away from Mireille!

Other voices sound behind me, voices of dogs. They are not what's dragging me away from Mireille. One dog says, "Leave him alone. He'll calm down in a moment."

That just makes me kick and claw harder. I will not calm down!

I'm struggling to keep this passageway open. I'm losing the struggle.

I can barely see myself down there now—the thing that's left of me.

Mireille sets my body down. She kisses the ruined sack of bones and she runs out of the room and out of the building.

That's our truck in the parking lot! Mireille climbs in and curls up in the front cab. She's holding my collar, and crying, "I want my dog! I want my dog!"

I've never seen a human cry like that. And that's not just anyone. That's my Mireille. I need to get to her.

Someone here—wherever here is—is jostling my haunch, asking me if I want to play.

"Huh? I gotta get BACK!"

I bark. I thrash. My paws skitter. I can't get any traction in the passage and it's shrinking. Closing. Closing.

She's down there and I'm up here. I shout louder. "Mireille! Mireille! Mireille!"

I hear a voice behind me, talking to someone else. "We need a therapy dog here. We got us real clinger."

Someone else says, "Shelby. Get Shelby. Get Aggie! And Tiny too. It's a bad one." Really? Apparently I'm the clinger. I'm the bad one. I can scarcely hear them for my own yelling.

Someone says, "Get him out of the passage."

"No! Let me go!"

The passage is collapsing. I am howling my fine strong lungs out. "Mireille! Mireille! Mireille!" Then to my holders, I yell, "Let me go! You don't understand. She needs me! Now! Now! Now! Now!" I'm barking my head off. She is falling away. She is so desperately hurting. I am scrambling. I feel amazingly strong. And just this morning I couldn't get up the stairs!

Such strange horrible sounds are coming out of Mireille curled down there in our truck, clutching my empty collar. I'm trying to tell her, Let's go home. I'm fine now. Let's go home. And to the ones holding me I roar, "LET ME GO!"

I'm yelling at the closing passageway. It's so tiny now! It's like I'm yelling through a straw. I'm desperate. I howl down the closing tube. "She needs someone! Somebody, help her! Help her! Somebody!"

The tunnel falls away and shuts.

It's gone.

I'm barking at spring grass.

I turn my head and glance back to a glorious meadow. I'm amazed. I don't have time for amazement. I turn back again. I need to get back into that dark corridor. It was just here. I can't find it! I'm frantic. I tear at the grass.

Warm noses and furry sides surround me. Voices assure me, "You're okay. You're okay."

"I know I'm okay! My Mireille needs me!"

"She will be okay, too. In time," a soft-eyed golden retriever tells me. "I'm Shelby."

"Shelby, get me home!"

"This is the way it's meant to happen," a big, placid bullmastiff tells me. "When we go first, we come here to wait for our heart holders."

"Mireille is not here! I need to be where Mireille is!"

"She's coming. In time," says the bullmastiff. "She's alive. You're not."

I'm not? "What?"

"Honey, you're dead," says the golden, Shelby. She has a beautiful face, a sweet voice, and the softest brown-eyed gaze. "You wait here. You're okay. She wants you to be okay. She'll be along later. That's what makes this place so wonderful. She will be here."

"No. Oh no. You don't get it! You!" I bark at the bullmastiff. "You! I have to get back! She needs me now. She is not okay!"

And now I'm shouting at the grassy ground where the passage ought to be. I'm stomping on it with my forepaws. I rake the grass away. Doesn't look like I'm getting out of here. I yell at the top of my voice, "She needs someone! Someone, find her! Be with her! She's got to have someone! Find her! Find her! Find her!"

ISBN 978-0-9906011-1-1
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