Bobie wanted to be there for the next crossing. It’s strange. Memory fades in the After perhaps more quickly than it does in the Today.
We forget how we got here, who, precisely, we were before, and only these visits, occasional or frequent, keep us connected, on our side, to those we’ve left behind.
When the Shepherd of Bones texted that it was Caleb’s time, I called Bobie to me, and we traveled back together.
Caleb had already collapsed when we arrived.
Bobie watched from the ashen hems.
Mochi came, too, to help her pup cross over.
Oh, Caleb! Weren’t you just a pup? You’ll age no more, once you’re with us.
Each time, Grim becomes more and more greedy. I fear one day, he’ll pocket the spirit-ball of light.
“Hand it,” I commanded.
We have an agreement, and if there’s anything that compels Death, it’s a contract.
I took Caleb’s warm spirit. “Soon,” I whispered, “we’ll roam free! We will show you clouds and sunlight and flocks of light-birds to chase!”
I rushed back with Bobie, Mochi, and Caleb’s spirit, releasing it in the moonlight. The old sire, the old dame, and the old pup romped and pounced through the nimbus, and I returned to see if the grieving needed help.
Mr. Bones was watching ice-skating on TV.
“Can’t get enough,” he said.
Out back, Crackers was the first of the mourners.
“Good dog, Crackers,” I said. “You’ll be joining your litter-brother soon. Don’t worry. It will be a quick crossing, and we’ll all be there to greet you. See those sparks of clouds? That’s them, chasing light-birds!”
But that’s not how to cheer a grieving dog.
Emery joined us.
He sat with Crackers, leaning into him, and spoke in the soft way he has, telling him about time and seasons and space and room.
Together, they walked slowly back to Lucas, surrounded now with all the members of the household.
“I know it seems too soon,” he said to Dustin. “But it’s not really, is it? Didn’t your pa have a great life?”
“My brother’s getting older, too,” he said to Crackers. “And my oldest brother, he’s already passed over. It happens to all of us, and everyone we know.”
It didn’t seem to cheer them up.
But then, Miss Molly barked, “I’m hungry!”
Dustin barked, “Swim! Swim? Swim!”
And Emery lowered his head and softly whispered again about time and space and moonlight and crickets.
“Crickets?” asked Lucas. They listened. The crickets sang. “It’s a nice sound, eh, pups?”
Dustin nosed Lucas’s pocket, where he kept the brush, and Lucas bent down to brush the wiry coat of the white dog.
Chloe remembered her tail, which seemed irresistible at that moment. Miss Molly wondered if Crackers were up for chase.
And Emery, he sighed and smiled. “Life. Space. All one.”