She let me know first thing this morning that he was gone. After 12 years, her cat Denzel had passed away. He's been through three states worth of addresses with her. He became her pet in college when she rescued him. He was here through graduation, going back to school for a certification and right up through her engagement and recent marriage. He's been sick since the spring; the vet warned he might not make it til now. However, she still wasn't prepared for Neil to find him last night.
She asked if we could make it to the funeral tonight before she went to work with a heavy heart. We made preparations for a special 'ceremony' in his honor. Phillip wrote out the Rainbow Bridge poem on a painting of a rainbow by Miles. Neil dug a hole for Denzel's final resting place just beneath her childhood bedroom window. Finally, she came in the door, eyes red and swollen from a long, sorrow-filled day. After a moment, she asked that we go ahead and "get this over with".
We filed outside, Mandy, Phillip, Miles, Lola, Olivia, Neil, Mrs. Judy, Mr. Charlie and me. Mrs. Judy placed candles around the tiny grave and Mandy asked to see him once more. She spoke sadly to her Denzel. She sobbed and lingered. She stood and took her spot next to the grave, flanked by Miles and Neil. Phillip began to read the Rainbow Bridge and she fell apart. Neil placed Denzel in his grave, and Mandy kneeled next to it to have her moment with him, below the flower bed around him. Miles and Neil patted her back gently. I pulled out my handwritten lyrics and began to sing Amazing Grace. I wouldn't normally need lyrics, but thankfully I had the foresight to jot them done. In the moment of her grief, I hesitated to begin, for the melody went blank from my mind, much less the words. Mrs. Judy first let out a nervous laugh, then began to cry and joined in.
It was over, and Denzel was honored in a way that was special and heart wrenching at the same time.