I originally wrote this story almost two years ago for my friend Jean Raffa. For some reason I never published it. Recently I heard about a new friend who lost a beloved pet and is moving through her grief, and I remembered this story. So I decided now is a good time. This story isn’t just about the loss of a pet, but about anyone–human or animal that has passed to the other world. It is a story about choices. And while it doesn’t completely describe my spiritual beliefs about the afterlife, it is a story of possibilities. It gives a glimpse of a possible answer as to why certain tragic things happen. Perhaps it is naive, that’s OK. I don’t profess to have any answers. It is really meant to bring a little comfort for anyone grieving. It is also meant to stir the imagination and the heart and to help anyone struggling with loss to gradually blossom into healing.
walked through the field of light weeping, looking for his dog. He called its name as he brushed his hands
over the tops of the radiant wheat. Suddenly
he heard the soft beating of wings and when he turned towards the sound, an
angel had alighted at his side.
For a long
time they said nothing. She walked beside
him with her hands cupped at her belly, looking straight ahead. He swiped a stick at the ground.
him,” he said.
“He is your
friend,” she said.
thought friends never left you. That’s what the other angel said.”
“They don’t leave
you. But they’re spirits, just like you
and I, and so sometimes–well, sometimes when the unexpected happens, they get
lost for awhile, just like us.”
The boy was
quiet a moment. He knew what she meant by unexpected, for here he was walking the
illuminated fields of heaven with an angel.
lost?” He asked.
“In a manner
of speaking. But he’s looking for
you. And he’ll find you, you can count
on that. He’s a clever dog.”
“Do I have
to just wait for him to find me? Couldn’t I look for him too?”
said the angel, “in fact, your love for him acts as a beacon. Through the hazy distances of memory and
through the corridors of his love for you—he will find you. He will come.”
placed her hand around his shoulder and pulled him closer.
calling him,” she said, “he’s listening.
And keep being yourself—for it is when you are being yourself the most that
you attract your beloved.”
suppose he’s upset that I left him?” asked the boy, his voice catching in his
“Try to stop
thinking about it like that,” the angel answered. “You didn’t leave him. You made a choice. After the accident, when the Great Light
asked if you wanted to remain here, you said yes, that’s all.”
should have never said yes. I was being
said the angel, “So you had the opportunity to stay here, in heaven, away from
the sickness that surrounded you, and you call that selfish?”
“He’s there though. I left him there and you know how daddy
is a different man after the accident.
Your choice to stay here has changed him. His heart broke in just the perfect way as to
let the Light in. He will never mistreat
anyone or anything again. He is a new
creation. And if you would have gone
back, he would still be steeped in his disease, so no more talk of being selfish.”
about mom?” said the boy.
think she’s been born again watching your father be born again? You don’t think she’s a better person
too? Your choice to stay here has
changed them both. There’s hope for them
now. They are helping thousands of
families with their project. Many, many
lives will be saved as a result of their
choice to build upon your choice.”
“OK, OK,” so
I’m not selfish, but I still want Bear.”
said the angel.
stop calling for him until he finds me,” said the boy.
“Or you find
him,” said the angel.
praying too,” said the boy.
praying,” she said, “with every step and tear and word you are praying; by just
being yourself—living the way you are living here in this world of Light and
Use—you are praying. Don’t ever worry
about not praying. Everything you do is
a prayer, Dear Brave Heart.”
And with an unfurling
of wings she was gone.
He stood in
the river of white shining grass and started calling again for Bear. All day he called and walked in the bright field–calling,
calling for his beloved Bear. He walked
past ponds and fields of wild flowers dappled with bees and butterflies. He walked past palaces and through forests of
redwoods that towered into the sky of heaven.
And just as
he was going to give up for the day, he heard angels singing. He spun around. When the angels sing that song—the welcoming song—there is a new arrival. The last time he heard it his great Aunt Ivy
appeared. He ran towards the sound, for
when heaven rejoices at a homecoming, the sound is indescribably wonderful, and
everyone drops what they’re doing and comes running to be a part of the
welcoming of another soul home. As he
ran he forgot about Bear and instead thought about how happy whoever it is will
be to have returned to their dearest, truest loves.
When he reached
the center of heaven he stopped. He
shook his head. He was stunned. The hosts of heaven, the Great Light, and every
soul from every part of the celestial world had gathered around something
sitting in their midst.
It was a
black and white shaggy dog.
“Bear!” He shouted. And at the sound of his name, Bear took off
running–fairly galloping over the snowy white grass. He leapt into the boy’s embrace knocking them
both into a tumble of fur and laughter.
The boy held
him, weeping on his neck. Bear panted
happily, licking the boy’s face with big, sloppy kisses.
moved towards them, smiling, singing.
know they sang the welcoming song for animals too,” laughed the boy with his
arms still around Bear.
she said, “we sing for all souls.”
“When will I
learn the welcoming song?” He asked, sniffling and rubbing Bear behind the
Bear’s with you,” she said, “you are complete. The welcoming song is within you
now—part of your own voice.”
when he felt his shoulder blades change their shape. They extended out and upwards, back and open;
and a certain, splendid heaviness sprouted painlessly in two directions. He
opened and closed his newly sprouted wings as he stood, keeping his hand on
Bear’s head. He smiled at Bear and at the angel and began laughing the laugh of
the side of the road, the police officer put his hand on the side of the dog’s bleeding
head. “He’s gone,” he said. “There was nothing you could do. Don’t blame yourself. It’s dark.
Hard to see.”
jumped across the road,” the woman said, sniffling and throwing her hands up in
despair. “He was running like he was looking
for something. I didn’t see him until it was too late.”
understand,” said the policeman, “are you sure you’re alright?”
said, and then she slowly tilted her head and looked up at the stars.
“Do you hear
that?” she asked.
asked the policeman.
she said, “I hear singing.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog