I found peace on a wing and a promise

  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014


It was only a few minutes before 3 p.m., a little over two years ago now. My heart was breaking, but, at the same time, something mysterious, maybe magical, happened.

I opened the French doors to the backyard and Sadie, my beloved dog for 12 years, hopped into the bright sun for the very last time. I was trying desperately to imprint images to memory, and, maybe, that’s why I took special notice of the little yellow butterfly hovering above Sadie.

How strange, I thought. The butterfly, floating and flitting, stayed right with Sadie every step she made. But the clock ticked. It was time to leave the courtyard – and Sadie’s little butterfly – behind.

Dr. Scott Broussard had arrived with his mobile veterinary unit. I tried to say, “Hello.” I tried to say, “Thank you for coming.” But I couldn’t. I could say only one thing.

“This is the worst day of my life,” I said.

Dr. Broussard told us our sweet little dog would simply go to sleep. We loved her too much to let her suffer. I didn’t want to take life from her, but I knew I couldn’t take what Sadie, torn apart inside from liver cancer, could no longer give.

I kissed Sadie’s head. “You’ve been,” Amy assured Sadie, “the best dog ever.”

Sadie licked Amy’s hand and went to forever sleep.

Our hearts were broken. I took Amy and stepped outside. The sun was shining and a spring breeze was blowing. We started to take a walk around the neighborhood pond when, directly in front of us, fluttered a little yellow butterfly.

It looked just like the one from the courtyard that had fluttered above Sadie.

Up and up into the sky it went, and as it did, our eyes followed and there, a rainbow had formed.

Many people know about the famous poem, Rainbow Bridge, and its words of comfort and hope: “Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. ... The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special. ... But the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. ... You have been spotted. ... and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.”

When I think of Sadie, I am overcome with sadness still, but sometimes I smile and think of a little yellow butterfly that led Sadie to Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve never seen that butterfly again, but I think I will when I touch the sky and cross the bridge on a happy reunion day.

Mark A. Stevens is a published author and has served as an award-winning newspaper editor and publisher in Tennessee and Louisiana. He now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., with his wife, Amy, and their dog, Rue.

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