The rainbow bridge

I have just finished reading “the book of dog” an anthology celebrating our beloved best friends. The story ‘Kafka’s last mango’ brought a tear to my eye. A single tear just welled up from somewhere deep down inside of me. It spent a few seconds at the corner of my eye and then slid down my cheek. And then it was gone, I could have pretended it did not happen because nobody saw me cry. Except, I saw me. Though I did not see the tear coming, it just popped out of nowhere. Each short story took me on a journey to different doggie lands but this particular one took me by surprise. Kafka reached out of those pages and found a way to help that one single tear escape from the safe where I had locked it up.

It touched a chord that was hidden so deep down that I did not know existed. “We stared at Kafka staring at the mango for hours. We knew it was time” is the last line of the story where Kafka is unable to enjoy a mango, which in the past has been a source of much joy. A story of a family struggling to decide if they had the right to decide when the time is right to say goodbye.

I had walked in these shoes. Maybe great storytelling is just that – helping others process their emotions. Helping to see the unseen or revisit a place that was out of reach. My single tear that crept out uninvited and unannounced, tells me I have not processed that day when I said goodbye to our beautiful Biscuit.

I am good at doing this, blocking emotions and locking them up, till (I tell myself) I can figure it out. Which is mostly saved for a later date “when I can afford that luxury” is my excuse for not allowing myself to feel. Easier to move on and over – but it’s never really over, is what I am discovering. My mind goes back to the day I said goodbye to Biscuit. I keep asking myself. Did I make the right decision? More importantly, did I do it for him or me?

To get my mind out of these uncomfortable thoughts, I dipped into my social media feed. I re-watched a video that I had shared on Facebook 5 years ago. I had titled it ‘fish love’. It talks about people who say they love fish and goes on to explain that’s why they take the fish out of the water and kill them and eat them. Their proclaimed love for fish means they love how eating fish makes them feel.

This is what haunts me. Did I send Biscuit over the rainbow bridge because I could not bear the pain or because I did not want him to feel the pain? Was dog love me just putting myself out of the trauma of his end-of-life care? 

The walls of our home still have his chew marks. The furniture in different corners shouts out, “Biscuit was here.” Many Facebook memories at regular intervals bring Biscuit back into focus. He made our home a happy place. His sideways run to greet us at the door. His love for food and his bed and so many other happy memories come flooding back.

While I am not sure what the answer is to this difficult question. “When is the time right to say goodbye to a pet in pain?” I know for sure Biscuit will be smiling at me and licking my bald head as he so loved to do, saying “Don’t think so much. Trust your feelings. Allow yourself to feel. Let all the tears out from the safe, it’s safe to do so. In your heart, you know what’s right.”

I would like to believe that what I did was out of compassion. I rarely make decisions on my own, this is one time I felt the need to do so. I had never read the rainbow bridge poem till Biscuit introduced me to it. The day he left, I found comfort in the words. So, here is me passing it forward through this post. Be kind to yourself. Know that you will do the right thing. And permit yourself to allow those tears to flow.

I love the line from the poem “….so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.” Biscuit, you dance and prance on in our home, where you will always be.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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