Thursday, February 16, 2017

Heaven is Wherever My Animals Are


I didn’t grow up religious, but there are a couple things I place all my faith in:

1. Being good feels good.
2. Being bad feels bad.
3. When you die, all the animals you’ve ever loved come running to greet you.

Thinking about #3 has helped me through some dark days of grief. Now, when I die and cross over to the other side, I have my arrival all planned out. 


Woody will spot me first. Here on Earth, Woody used to lay inside the door of my dad’s guitar shop, casting a stern gaze at all the passers-by. Each time I approached the shop, he’d narrow his wary eyes … until I got close enough for him to recognize me.

I’d wait for it … that precise, adorable moment when Woody spotted me from afar. His whole expression would change. His alert ears would drop. His squared shoulders would go soft. His eyes would go wide and bright as his mouth opened in a doggie grin.

Yes, when I die, Woody will make his wiggly way toward me first.

But Porter, my dear, angel Porter, won’t be far behind. When Porter and I shared an apartment, he slept on a futon in the spare bedroom all day while I was at work. I lived for the moment when I pushed open our back door each day. Porter, waking with a start, would burst out of his bedroom, slide sideways into view, then get tangled in his own Beagle feet as he did a quick, gleeful pivot in the foyer.

One day, I’ll see him come tumbling into to view again … then careen around the clouds, galloping, ears flapping, and diving into my arms. I can’t wait to feel his stocky little body and bury my nose in his turkey-dinner smell. 


(Oh Porter! I miss you most of all.)


Betty and Nookie, the regal ladies, will bring up the rear. Betty won’t be the crooked, sick old girl I said goodbye to. She’ll be the sleek, athletic Husky who used to race me down grassy hills — thundering past me in a joyful blur. That’s the Betty I’ll see again. Billy the brown dog, my first love, will take his polite place in line, and sometimes, I feel like I can't even wait.

It breaks my heart to think of it now, as she sleeps beside me, but by then, my beloved cat Firefly will be there too. Her health has been failing, and every day seems like a bittersweet reason to celebrate. I don’t want her to go, but when she does, I hope she waits for me, too.

I hope it with all my heart.  


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