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A Meeting at the Bridge
fall, in the dark hours of a very windy early morning, fire sirens sounded in
our quiet neighborhood. In quick succession, another and another and another
screaming truck rolled up. The HI-LO howl of an Ambulance hurrying to it's
destination joined the chorus. Suddenly the howl of the wind lost the battle for
supremacy; it could no longer compete with those sirens. Now two police cruisers
converged on our quiet corner. The night, no longer dark and empty, was a
collage of color, bustle and man-made noise. Cars were leaving their stalls in
the parking lots, to be replaced by fire fighting equipment, rescue truck and
ambulance; fire fighters, paramedics, police, and the people evicted from the
row houses milled around in the mixture. The smells of a fire out of control
replaced the odors of late fall. The air was now full of flying, smoking embers
instead of blowing leaves. By morning it was clear that the men and equipment
had won the battle. The cost of that victory tallied out at one house destroyed,
several badly smoke-damaged, many tired but thankful Emergency Services staff,
two firefighters being treated for smoke inhalation, and a little girl's two
kitties, victims of the raging fire.
child was torn between the pain of her furkids' death, and the thankfulness felt
by them all that the fire hadn't claimed more lives. At first she was convinced
that she shouldn't mourn for her furfamily, because the whole family had lost so
much and it would only make her Mom and Dad feel worse. She even thought that
somehow she was responsible for the fire in the first place because she had
named those kitties Dusty and Smokey. It was a heavy load for that little heart
to carry and mind to deal with; this little girl had successfully fought one
round of a battle with Leukemia, and now she had been handed another battle with
she found out about the Candle Ceremony, and read some of the stories and poems
about Rainbow Bridge, she grasped the knowledge and made it all hers. She even
had a special name for the participants in the Candle Ceremony each week, and
eagerly joined in herself, with her Mom and Dad. We were re-named "the Candle
People", we who had helped a little girl deal with and start to heal from her
weeks ago, the Leukemia reappeared, and she was hospitalized again. The
treatments this time were not effective, and she slowly lost ground, though not
her sense of humor not her consideration for other people... especially those
caring for her. This week, she drifted along the borders of knowing and not
knowing, until she lost all knowing.
this morning, 12:30 AM, Tuesday April 15, 1997, she opened her eyes and smiled
at her parents who were sitting on the edges of her bed; her eyes looked beyond
them, her mouth opened and she said with a voice full of love and wonder,
"SMO-key!!" Her little self relaxed, and Della went forward to meet her Smokey
and Dusty on that Bridge.
remember her family, consisting of her Mom, Dad and Grandma as well as two
Aunts, an Uncle and two cousins, in your prayers.
from Della's Mom and Dad
want to thank each and every one of you who shared the most painful time we've
ever known. When we had the fire last fall, we were so very discouraged; all
that we had gathered in 12 years as a family was gone. We had a distraught
daughter who lost not only her inanimate treasures, but also had to adjust to
the death of her two kitties. Smokey and Dusty had been given to Della when her
leukemia went into remission, and they were her joy. We had not been allowed the
time to save them, there was only time to get Della out, and escape ourselves.
But oh, we felt so guilty!
Then a knock at the door, and Heather from
Disaster Relief Services asked if we would let a lady come over for a few
minutes and talk to us. We hesitated for a few minutes, and Heather said that
she felt it would be all right, and if we wished, she would stay with us. With
that assurance, we agreed to see this lady, and Heather phoned to ask if she
could come then. Marg came in, and spent almost half an hour talking to us,
telling us that she would like to share something with Della that had helped
other people who had to recover from the loss of a loved one. She showed us the
text of what she called The Candle Ceremony, as well as some writings, and asked
if she could show them to Della and talk to her for a few minutes. When we said
that she could, she asked that we stay with them, since we didn't know her, and
that if at any time we were uncomfortable to stop her there.
Della took to
Marg right away, and was thrilled that her babies were going to be remembered
with love by so many people. Marg talked about their death with a great deal of
sensitivity to a sorrowing 10 year old. Before she left, she gave Della her
phone number and address, telling her that if she wanted to talk, she could
phone or come to her house. As Marg told her, she wouldn't stop hurting all at
once, but it would get better with time. We're sure that Della's recovery from
Smokey and Dusty's death was made smoother by the love that Marg brought from
you all and shared with Della.
The night that Della came home and said that
she had talked to the Candle People was a highlight of her life..... she was too
excited to sleep, all she could talk about was how great you all are and didn't
even care that she was so slow at typing.
Pete and I have been the
beneficiaries of that love and caring these past weeks, and it was that caring
and the prayers, accompanied by the candle glow, that gave us the strength to
support Della as she herself made her way to the re-union with Smokey and Dusty.
Marg called herself the pipeline for the caring of all of you, and we felt
surrounded by a ring of prayer, love and support. We can't ever thank you
enough, but we want you to know that we'll be on the lookout for ways and
opportunities to be part of that pipeline for other people who are hurting like
Again, thank you all from grateful hearts.
Pete and Mary
Marion has graciously said that she'll bring this to you, since we weren't
able to get to the chat place last night. I want to say "Thank you, from very
grateful hearts for what you've done".
Last night was the first time that
we've been able to read Meeting on the Bridge and our reply on your webspace.
Your introduction is beautiful, and when we close our eyes and think of it,
we'll always see it against the background you've chosen. It's as if she's
speaking from beyond the sky, isn't it? We were telling Mother about what a
sense of peace there is about the way you've presented it, and her comment was
"When someone dies, we hold funerals or memorial services, we place markers on
the grave and pretty soon the only ones who know of that life are family and
friends. It's not going to be like that for Della". You have made it possible
for our daughter to continue doing what she loved to do in the world, make a
difference for people, and help them to feel better. Words can never thank you
This has been the most terrible year and a half of our lives; yet
through all the pain and tears, we've been so blessed. Marg led us to the Candle
People, and from them we've been given the strength to move ahead into a deeper
peace than we could have thought possible. You will all be a part of our own
Candle Ceremony as we remember Della on this first anniversary of her Meeting
with Smokey and Dusty this Wednesday.
Again, thank you for the marvellous
work you're doing on your webplace, and thank you for sharing the most
devastating yet most wonderful moment of our lives.
Just four days after I received the
letter, I learned that on April 18th 1998 Pete, Mary, and Della's Grandmother
were victims of a head on collision while visiting relatives on the first
anniversary of Della's passing.
They are now all together. Again and
forever. Across the Rainbow Bridge.