This letter from Mommy to Mama Kitty was written on Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sweet Mama Kitty,

It's been about 2 weeks since you left us. My sweet, sweet girl I wish I had been able to help you. I wish you would have somehow let us know you needed our help, that you were sick.

I will never forget the first day I brought you home. You were such a brave girl. You were so young and had a litter of kittens under a man's porch. One day he came home to hear you hissing and growling and when he went outside he found you on top of a raccoon's back trying to make it drop one of your babies. He shot and killed the raccoon and rushed the baby to the vet hospital. They did many surgeries on him and miraculously he survived. He had special needs so a friend who worked at the vet's office adopted him. The man then went and caught you (you were feral and wanted nothing to do with people) and got the 2 remaining kittens, both boys. My 2 elderly kitties had just gone to the rainbow bridge so I adopted the 2 boys right away. Their names were Butters & Tweeks after the cartoon South Park. About a month later I was able to bring you home. You promptly let me know how you felt about that by peeing on my bed and then hiding. I didn't mind though. I knew you were scared and that eventually you would warm up to me. It took a while but finally you did. I hope you know how very grateful I am to you for sharing your babies with me. I wanted some of my own so badly and it just wasn't meant to be. But you shared your boys with me and I will love you forever for that.

You were probably the sweetest kitty I have ever had but at the same time you were tough. You stood guard for your family whenever a raccoon would be lurking in the back yard. I think my favorite memory of you is how you would give your kisses. You would wait until your "victim" was laying down. Then you would jump up on the bed, give a rub of your face and then throw your entire body into a full on body slam. Sometimes so hard that you would fall over doing it. That was your way of saying "I love you" and "PET ME NOW!!!"

Besides you 3 kitties, we also had a beautiful little Chihuahua, Missy living with us. Missy was very protective of you kitties even though the two of you at times pretended not to like each other. I think it was a game you played because as you both got older, you both became more tolerant of each other.

In August 2017 Butters became very sick with liver failure. He passed to the Rainbow Bridge and while we all took it really hard I think you took it the hardest. You withdrew to one of the spare bedrooms and rarely would come out. Then Mommy got a new boyfriend and he began to pay a lot of attention to you and gave you lots of loves and pets even when you didn't seem to want them. Then one day you started venturing out of the room and spending time with us. You became really attached to him and even started giving him your body slams. You would even come to him when he called for you.

When you got sick we rushed you to the vet hospital but unfortunately it was too late. Our sweet girl was not going to make it. I think that maybe you decided you wanted to go be with Butters. It was hard on us because our beloved Missy had died just a month before. Tweekies misses all 3 of you. So does mommy. Daddy didn't know Butters but he misses you so much and Missy too. Someday we will be together again. Until then just know you are in our hearts forever and ever. We miss you so much!

Love,

Mommy

This letter from Mommy to Butters was written on Thursday, May 3, 2018Butters

Sweet Butters,

Its been a few months since you left us but you are missed every single second of every single day. You were such a good boy. I still remember the day I brought you and your brother Tweekies home. I was going through a divorce, had just moved to a new home, and my 2 sweet elderly kitties were sick and had to be put down. You and your brother were so little and you both needed a forever home. I decided to bring you home with me the same day I put my 2 girls down. I couldn't bear the thought of going home to an empty house. I remember the 2 of you boys kept me awake all night running around the house. You sounded like a herd of elephants. The next morning I informed you both that your nights would be spent locked in the bathroom so that mommy could sleep. And, I reminded you both, jokingly of course that you were expendable - I could return you at any time. I never had any intention of returning either of you. I loved you from the first time I held you.

I think it was about a month later I was able to bring your mother home too. She was feral and it took me at least a year just to get her to let me pet her. Another year to hold her. And still another year before she stopped running to hide when I walked into a room. Now she's a big love bug but she still loves to go outside. You and your brother are more the homebodies.

I want you to know Butters that I love you so much. The cute and quirky thing you do with your paws when you get a belly rub - your Aunt Vic named it your happy dance. Every time you did your happy dance it put a smile on our faces. It was so sweet the way you would cuddle up to your brother and mama.

I want you to know I am so sorry that I didn't know you were sick until it was too late to help you. I wish you had given me some kind of sign, but you didn't seem sick until I noticed you were losing a lot of weight. By then you were in the final stages of liver failure. My sweet boy. You lost so much weight it was difficult to see you that way. I'm grateful that you chose me to share your life with. I'm glad that in the end I could hold you in my arms so that you were not alone when you passed to the Rainbow Bridge. Your sweet brother really took it hard and he sat and stared at your body for at least 15 minutes. Then he licked your face and went to look out the window. Your mama looked at you only briefly then ran into the other room.

I miss you so very much Butters. Your Aunt Vic misses you too. You were such a good boy. I think what I miss most is waking up and finding Tweekies on my head, Mama next to my head, Missy behind my knees and you laying on top of my stomach or side staring at me with those big green eyes. Then as soon as I was completely awake the kitty & doggy kisses began until I was literally smothered in them! Now you and Missy are both at the Rainbow Bridge. Someday we will be together again. Until then just know that you are always in my heart. I miss you so much and love you forever.

Love Always,

Mommy

This letter from Mommy to Missy was written on Wednesday, May 2, 2018Missy

Sweet Missy,

I want you to know how VERY VERY much mommy misses you! I love you SOOOO much! I hope you know that. Everyone misses you. The kitties, especially Tweekies are so sad. Aunt Vic & Jill miss you. Daddy misses you. Pretty much everyone who has ever met you misses that sweet face of yours.

Some of my favorite memories of you are seeing you play with your best friend (a cat!) Riley. You two were inseparable until she moved away. Remember how you were so protective of your own kitties? Any time Jill or any other doggy tried to chase them you always jumped to get in between them and growled at the doggy to scare them away. You were such a good girl! Putting your tiny little life jacket on and watching you doggy paddle around the pool is probably my favorite memory of you. That, and watching how excited you would get whenever you got to go places with me.

Those last days with you at the park and just cuddling in bed will always be special to me just like you.

I hope you can forgive me for all the times I promised to take you to the park and got too busy and for all the mistakes I made over the years taking care of you. I have never had a doggy before you so I was learning and making all my mistakes with you.

I hope you also understand that all the poking with the needles and all the tests - they were all because we were trying to find out what was making you so sick so that maybe we could get you better and you could have stayed here with us. But unfortunately it didn't work out that way. I wish so much that it had but I guess Jordan really needed you there with him. I know he always wanted a sweet dog and the only person that loves you as much as I do is probably Jordan. I know he will take good care of you and someday we will all be together at the Rainbow Bridge.

So until that happens, please just be happy and roll in the grass, chase after butterflies, give Jordan all the sweet doggy kisses he can handle and know that everyone misses you - mommy most of all. Please give Butters some doggy kisses for mommy and let him know how much mommy misses his purrs and kitty kisses.

Please be a good girl for Jordan. I know you will. And don't ever forget that you will ALWAYS be my sweet, special girl and ALWAYS have a place in my heart. Until we can be together again, know that I love you and any time you miss me just think of me and you will know I'm thinking of you too. I love and miss you sweet girl!

Love Always,

Mommy

This letter from Mary to Benny was written on Monday, April 9, 2018Benny

Sweet Benny,

Dear Benny:

I remember the day I brought you home from the shelter. After that lady returned you because you wanted to sit on her lap. You didn't like to be alone. But who could blame you, four different homes that we knew about. It took some time but slowly your separation anxiety got better, but it was always there. I wasn't about to pass you around like all the other's. Who better to adopt you then the Shelter Manager.

Remember, all our wonderful walks together. We walked a lot. You would sleep with Mommy every night.

You never , ever, once growled or try to bite anyone. You were the sweetest thing ever. You loved everyone. Just wanted to be with your people!

People tell me you were much LOVED by me.

People tell me I did the right thing.

People tell me everything dies.

I MISS you little buddy!

You were never, ever, a bother to me. We were together for over 14 yrs. I never gave up on you and I will always LOVE you!

And Benny...don't forget to say hi to Raja and Kitty Cat....oh and Radar.

Love,

Mary

This letter from Grace to Humans was written on Saturday, March 17, 2018Humans

Dear Humans,

<written from my dog's perspective>

I'm tired. I have been for a while now. I'm probably around 12 1/2 years old and the last year has been different from what I'm used to. I wish my back legs would work like they should. I like the harness, but I'm sick of having it on 24-7 if I'm going to be honest. And those blasted head twitches and jolts that make me zone out? Ya, I'm over it. My parents have tried everything, but the thing is, I was never officially diagnosed with anything so they never knew what was going on.

Today especially, I'm tired. It's not because my dad took me on a slow walk so I could pee on my favourite spots. It's a different tired. It's hard for me to move from spot to spot and that's what I do because I can't get comfortable and relax anymore. My parents even have a blanket under the tree I used to dig around, but we've been laying there while I sleep instead of dig. They've been talking a lot on the blanket - for days. And they cry for a bit too. I've known things have been different for a while.

Today, I finally settled on my mat in the front room. I just got comfortable when Faith walked in. I had met her before. First was when she helped my Berner BFF, Zoe, to cross some bridge. She was nice and gentle; I remember that. Then a few months ago she stopped in just to see me. I like her. She understood me from the first time we met. The funny thing is as a rescue, I was rough around the edges so my mom named me 'Grace' because I needed some. And now here's 'Faith' because we ALL need some.

I didn't really move when she came in the room but I didn't have to because she came right over to me and rubbed my head. She was calm and had a good energy. It felt good. She went to set something up then jackpot! My parents came into the room with a burger and a pint of ice cream. Just. For. Me. For real. They came down on the floor with me and fed me a piece of burger then I had a few licks of ice cream. Then burger. Then ice cream. Faith came back into the room and I got super tired and literally fell asleep with my tongue licking the ice cream. It was awesome. Then I slept. A type of sleep my parents had wished for me for the past while. A great deep sleep but I could still hear my parents. My dad was sad. More than I've ever heard him but he was saying super nice things to me. I'll always remember. Then my mom put her eye on my eye, which is something she always did and said some stuff to me that she always said to me at bedtime. I'll take that with me where ever I go.

Then I don't really remember what happened. My body went but my mind stayed. Weird. But that's all I need to be near my parents. I can still hear them and see them in my mind. When they talk to me, I talk back.

But guess what? I'm not tired anymore! I'm running around, neck-wrestling with Zoe and peeing on all sorts of things. I missed this.

Whatever my parents and Faith did sure did work. I feel like myself and that is happy.

Love,

Grace

This letter from Your Dad, Wayne to Mercury was written on Thursday, January 18, 2018Mercury

Dear Mercury,

I said goodbye to Mercury today.

You were a few months shy of nineteen. I have been so blessed to share so many wonderful years and adventures together, every day loving each other more than the day before. We were inseparable for nearly two decades, bonded soul to soul. Your life was long and happy and filled with love. We didn’t waste a single second of our life together. As heart breaking as it is to not be able to hold you in my arms, I'll hold you in my heart and talk to you every day in my prayers till we're together again. You'll never be alone.

As you cross to the next adventure your eyes will be clear and see for miles, you’ll be strong and run like the wind again. The sky is always blue and the sunshine warm and bright on fields of flowers. Your sister Stella will be waiting, wagging and barking to see you. Grandma will greet you with a big smile and take you in her arms and spoil you again. And, in what seems like a just a minute to you, but a painfully long time for me, you’ll look back over the rainbow bridge and see me smiling and waving, coming home to all of you. This isn’t our end; it is the beginning of our next adventure.

You taught me to see the wonder in life and the beauty in nature. You were my heart and my soul, my teacher and my muse, my friend and companion. You showed me the importance of a kind soul and a generous heart. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for your love and devotion, thank you for the laughter, you filled my life with meaning, you filled my life with joy. Thank you for teaching me to love so pure.

In the end I held you in my arms as you drifted off to the gentle caress and soothing voice of the person you loved with all your heart and who loved you with all of his. Tenderly passed from my loving arms to the wings of angels.

Love,

Your Dad, Wayne

This letter from Sam to Toby was written on Thursday, December 7, 2017Toby

To Toby,

It's hard coming up on the holiday season. I see the treats I always bought you in Bulk Barn and I know how much you loved this time. You got more treats and more pets than usual over Christmas and I'm sorry last Christmas was your last and none of us knew. Everyone calls their dog a good boy, but you were THE good boy. The best boy. You were just... amazing. I don't know if I believe in reincarnation or souls. But if I do, or if it's real, I hope you come back in some form to this world, because you were such a pure, vibrant being and I hope someone else can experience that. I'm glad I was with you until the end. I'm glad it was just you and me. You were and always will be my best friend. I'm sorry you couldn't be the ring bearer at my wedding like we wanted, but I know I made the right decision for you and I hope you understand that too. I love you old man.

Love,

Sam

This letter from Vineca to Tia was written on Saturday, November 18, 2017Tia

Sweet Tia,

Every day I am reminded of your unconditional love that touched so many lives for so many years.

Without warning, illness attacked you virulently. Our veterinary team worked hard to turn this specter of death away, and I had only one wish.That you would not suffer. That our love would extinguish the flames of a cancer that gave no rhyme or reason.

As I held you close and your last sentient breath filled the room, and your warm body became heavy and still, I knew that you were finally free. No more pain, no more suffering.

Your gentle nature never failed to keep the focus on the only thing that ever matters — love. And this is forever.

Love Always,

Vineca

This letter from Mom to Galileo was written on Friday, October 20, 2017Galileo

Dear Galileo,

My dearest, sweetest angel. This is the first day after our formal grieving period of 49 days, and I want so much to be better, to be more at peace. To be able to write the perfect letter that captures all the blessings bundled up in you. And last week, I began to feel the grief softening just a little, just enough to make it bearable; this, I told a friend who was kind enough to check in with me to see how I was doing. I have been through this kind of loss twice before, when your brothers have had to move on. I know it does, in fact, get easier to carry on; that the waves of sadness still come, but there is more room to breathe between them. But, it seems, I still have such a long way to go until I get there. However, I didn’t want to put off writing to you because I know, no matter how long I wait, I would never be able to put into words everything I wanted to; and I know writing today is going to be an integral part of the process in strengthening my sense of connection to you under these new circumstances.

Yesterday, for your Day 49 – the Buddhists’ notion of how long a spirit may take to navigate the Between – I wanted to honor your journey, as I did for your brothers at the end of seven weeks’ time. The usual toast with a bit of bubbly was a given. Lighting a candle at the cathedral. But I had the idea to ask your Dad if I could go up in the airplane with him (and his instructor) for his flying lesson. This way, I thought, I wouldn’t have to wait until I got my wings to fly with you. Your dad had his own idea about you as a future co-pilot, so I knew this would resonate with him as well in his own way.

Your wings. Remember how I called you our Angel-in-Residence? How I said all your peanut butter-colored freckles marked the kisses of your angel-friends when they huddled around you to say goodbye for a while, right before you left heaven to become part of our family? How almost every day without fail I thanked you for giving up your wings another day to be with us? How I would stroke your “wing spots” as part of our daily meditation together? And marvel aloud at the iridescence in your white fur: so sure I was that this mirrored the shimmer of colors in your dazzling white wings hanging in heaven’s closet and waiting for your return? How I assured you Pushkin and Otis would dust off your wings when the time came for you, and would meet you with them right away when it came time for you to go back? And how, when your legs were crumpling on you in the last month or so, I’d told a neighbor you’d be OK because, in heaven, you had the most beautiful, strong wings. I’d told her – borrowing Grandpa’s term – in heaven, you are a “fast flyer.”

So, I believe you’ve been soaring since Day 1, as soon as your brothers showed up for you. No need for any time spent in some bardo… not for you, already an angel. I believe that the three of you are together again. That you are getting to know Pushkin now, who is healthy and youthful, just as you are again. You are once again right at brother Otis’s side. And that both of them are so proud of you -- their baby brother, all grown up: just like the day all three of you were together for your “debut” at the dog park in Tucson. I can still so clearly see the three of you there, and I believe it’s a lot like that in heaven now; and somehow, in your heaven, I’m standing nearby just as I was on that day. I believe all of this, admittedly, because I have to… I need to. But that’s OK.

In addition to the daily reflections and meditation practices you and I have been practicing together for years, I’m nearing the end of an extra 33-day series of reflections that came my way pretty much right after your time came. A bit of miracle that yesterday’s theme – on your special day -- was “knowing”: the difference between believing and knowing something. Each morning when I lay my hand on you while we breathed together I would say, “Do you think I love you or know it? Because you have to know it! Long after your brain is gone and it can’t think anymore, you have to still know it.” And so here we are still practicing this ongoing sense of connection. Someday, my spirit also will be free of its body; I too must know – must trust – that our connection is forever. Which is why your special song – the one that, whenever you hear me singing it, you know I am singing solely to you -- is “Our Love Is Here To Stay.” Oh yes it is. Know it.

Now that 49 days have passed, I know there needs to be a subtle shift in how I’m approaching the day. I am feeling the weight of having to move forward. I’m still here. I’m trying, Galileo. Today’s extra reflection was about “oneness” and letting the heart open in order to more fully experience our connection with someone. I always have called you my heart-chakra canine kid, so again the timeliness of today’s focus is a bit of a miracle. (Yes, I will continue to be someone who looks for miracles in my day, for signs that you and your brothers are with me and that you remember we are a family, no matter how much time passes.) Inspired in part by today’s practice, I want to promise you that I will work hard to clear distractions, to quiet the mental chatter, to reduce external chaos -- specifically so that it will be easier for us both to feel each other’s energy and love. The importance of being present: one of the lessons you and your brothers have taught me and continue to teach me even now. And the joy that can come with it.

Each morning while you were with us (eleven years, three months, five days), I thanked you and God for another day with you. Another day, another gift. That is still true, even if we now have to spend our time together a little differently. I will try not to lose sight of this truth as I continue getting used to how our relationship must now evolve. You are a gift – then, now, always. Joy. My precious angel: fly happy, fly free! And look over your shoulder: see me right there with you. That is my prayer. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

Love,

Mom

This letter from Mom - Denise Belcevic to Pepper was written on Sunday, July 9, 2017Pepper

Sweet Pepper,

I cannot begin to put into words the devastating loss I feel after having to make the decision to let you go. The words the doctor whispered, "she's gone mom" haunt me each and every day. I know that you needed to fly from your little broken body and move to a place where you could chase baby bunnies until your heart's content. Your departure was so unexpected and too soon. With time, I pray the hole in my heart and soul will be replaced with the joy we shared. I miss you my Pepper-oni, my Schnoodle-doodle.

Love,

Mom - Denise Belcevic