It's very sweet, and sentimental, and can make grown men sniffle, yet all I can do is take great solace in the knowledge that there is no such place, because, if there were, I'm afraid it wouldn't be nearly as nice as it's made out to be.
Here's the piece, of unknown authorship, for those who have somehow escaped it thus far:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that 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 and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they 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. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
After reading these beautiful paragraphs, who wouldn't want to meet their dearly departed pets there on the banks of the Rainbow Bridge?
Me, for one.
If I died today, there would be forty or fifty dogs and cats waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge, all demanding my undivided attention, each considering me their one and only master. Imagine the hell that will break lose when Holden and Levi each rush to be first to see me. Poor Holden will get pulverized.
I've "owned" all my dogs and cats with Karen. Did they all meet her at Rainbow Bridge? And what about Arthur? He was Karen's Seeing Eye dog, but she died before he did? Is he sitting at the banks of the Rainbow Bridge psychotically guarding his Frisbee, waiting for me to throw it, or is he on the other side, pushing his way between Karen and Lyric? And, assuming poor Levi goes before I do, is he going to be forced to wait for me with Arthur, his tormentor, until I finally show up?
No, Rainbow Bridge is one of those things that works fine in theory, like communism or having sex with "just friends." It's only when you get to the nitty-gritty details and necessary implications and repercussions that you see the glaring flaws in these seemingly perfect ideas.
Of course we want to be with the pets we love forever. It's only natural. But under the Judea-Christian-Islamic system, animals don't have souls, and certainly won't enjoy a heavenly afterlife like that described in the Rainbow Bridge. It's peculiar, then, that this particular writing seems to appeal especially to Christians.
According to Wikipedia (the source of all truth) the Rainbow Bridge has similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse Mythology, which was the bridge to Norse Heaven. Surely that's not where our American pets wait for us. So where did this idea of Rainbow Bridge come from? Could it just be made up, like every other answer offered regarding what happens after death?
What happens after death, to us and our pets, is the big question. Are we reunited forever in the afterlife, is there a special paradise for animals, or do we all molder for eternity in the cold earth?
I say we molder, but it doesn't matter. As long as each of us live, the love we had for each pet in our life lives on with us. As I wrote yesterday, Holden, fifteen years dead, will always be my dog. So will Lyric and Vinnie and all of them. I don't need to wait until I die and get to the Rainbow Bridge to be with them again. I'm always with them.
© 2009, All Rights Reserved, Rich Sands