When her pet rabbit was dying, the seven-year-old learned about the Rainbow Bridge.
“Papaw, is Izzie going to die?” my seven-year-old granddaughter, Carolyn, asked, cradling her pet rabbit in her arms. Izzie was already full grown when she joined the family and had been Carolyn’s closest companion for the past four years.
Recently Izzie had stopped eating. We went to the veterinarian that morning, and the news wasn’t good. The vet told me the rabbit would most likely pass by the end of the day.
“I’m afraid so. She’s lived a good life, but it’s time for her to leave this world,” I told Carolyn.
She looked up at me, teary-eyed. “Will it hurt her when she dies?”
“No,” I assured her. “She’ll fall into a deep sleep and stop breathing.” It was hard to see my granddaughter feeling so sad.
Carolyn’s voice was no more than a whisper. “I don’t want Izzie to die. She’ll be all alone with no one to care for her. What will she do? Where will she go?”
Suddenly I was six years old again, wondering about those same things after my dog, Champ, had died. “If Champ isn’t here anymore, where is he?” I had asked my mother.
Now I told Carolyn exactly what my mother had told me. “She’ll go to the Rainbow Bridge,” I said, gently stroking Izzie’s soft coat.
Confusion clouded my granddaughter’s face. “What’s the Rainbow Bridge?”
“It’s where pets go when they die. There they have all the best food and clean water they want,” I said. “All the animals are friends, and eventually they’re reunited with the people who love them.”
Carolyn still looked troubled. Lord, I asked, help me comfort my granddaughter.
Izzie nestled deeper into Carolyn’s arms, taking short labored breaths, her eyes closed. “But what if she can’t find the bridge?”
“That will never happen,” I said, echoing my mother’s words. “There is a boy holding a golden horn who stands at the bridge to help the pets find their way.”
A faint smile crossed Carolyn’s face. “He must be an angel with a magic horn.”
That evening, instead of putting Izzie in her cage, Carolyn set a soft blanket next to her own bed for her rabbit. “Go to sleep, Izzie,” she whispered. “When you wake up, you’ll be at the Rainbow Bridge. Please don’t forget me.”
Sometime during the night Izzie left this world.
The next morning, with my granddaughter’s help, I built a small wooden box. Carolyn wrapped Izzie in her blanket and laid her inside. “I want to bury her under the oak tree that I can see from my window.”
Carolyn held the box and quietly watched me dig Izzie’s burial place. As I lifted away a shovelful of soil, she cried out. “Papaw, stop! There’s something in there!”
I peered into the hole, but I didn’t see anything. Carefully I removed more soil by hand. Then I found it—a small ceramic figurine of a boy.
“Look, Papaw! The little boy is holding a gold horn!”
“He must have been placed here just for you,” I said.
Carolyn nodded. “Izzie found the bridge,” she said.
She keeps the little figurine on her nightstand, a reminder that she will see her beloved rabbit again one day, at the end of the Rainbow Bridge.
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