For those who’ve misplaced a pet, you’ve got possible encountered “Rainbow Bridge”—a easy however poignant poem about animal heaven and the promise of reunion with furry family members. Copies of the poem are commonly given to bereft purchasers by veterinary hospitals; references generally seem in condolence playing cards and social media messages to grieving pet dad and mom.
For all of the hundreds of thousands of lives “Rainbow Bridge” has touched, although, the creator of the poem has remained unknown—till now. She is Edna Clyne-Rekhy, an 82-year-old Scottish artist and animal lover. Till lately, she had no concept that the poem she wrote over 60 years in the past—to honor her canine, Main—had introduced consolation to so many others.
“I’m completely surprised,” she says. “I’m nonetheless in a state of shock.”
Clyne-Rekhy’s authorship possible would have been misplaced to historical past have been it not for the tenacious sleuthing of Paul Koudounaris, an artwork historian, creator, and cat proprietor in Tucson, Arizona. Koudounaris has spent the previous decade engaged on a guide about pet cemeteries and often encountered references to the “Rainbow Bridge” in his analysis.
“Early on I began to marvel, who wrote this?” he says. It bothered him that “a textual content with monumental significance to the world of animal mourning” remained uncredited.
The poem’s recognition, he found, was launched in February 1994, when a reader from Grand Rapids, Michigan, despatched a replica of “Rainbow Bridge” that they’d obtained from their native humane society to the recommendation column Expensive Abby. “For those who print this, you had higher warn your readers to get out their hankies,” they wrote.
Abby did print the poem—and confessed to shedding “a tear or two”—however she additionally identified to her 100 million readers that the creator’s identify was regrettably lacking. “If anybody in my studying viewers can confirm authorship, please let me know.”
Nobody got here ahead, however after that, “Rainbow Bridge” gave the impression to be in all places. Beginning in 1995, Koudounaris discovered information of 15 separate claims filed beneath the title “Rainbow Bridge” with the USA Copyright Workplace. He compiled an inventory of round 25 names he discovered with any connection to the poem and, one after the other, seemed into every and crossed them off as attainable authors till he was left with only one: Edna Clyne-Rekhy.
He had discovered Clyne-Rekhy’s identify after seeing reference in a web based chat group to an Edna “Clyde” from Scotland who allegedly wrote the poem when her son’s canine died. Some Googling led him to Clyne-Rekhy, whose authorship of a guide about her late husband and their canine made him jot her identify onto the listing—the one girl and the one non-American.
“What initially would have appeared like probably the most unlikely candidate ultimately turned out to be probably the most intriguing candidate and, in fact, the precise creator,” Koudounaris says.
When Koudounaris lastly reached Clyne-Rekhy in January and requested if she was the creator of “Rainbow Bridge,” her first response, she says, was “How on Earth did you discover me!?’”
Clyne-Rekhy’s story, which Koudounaris detailed earlier this month, started in 1959. She was 19 years outdated and grieving the lack of her Labrador Retriever, Main. “He died in my arms, really,” she recalled in a name with Nationwide Geographic. “I dearly liked him.”
The day after Main died, Clyne-Rekhy was nonetheless “simply crying and crying,” she says, when her mom requested her what was fallacious.
“It’s Main,” Clyne-Rekhy replied. “I can’t put away this soreness.”
“Perhaps write down the way you’re feeling,” her mom steered.
Clyne-Rekhy adopted her mom’s recommendation. Sitting within the household’s lounge at their house close to Inverness, she wrote a primary line on a white sheet of paper: “Simply this aspect of heaven is a spot referred to as Rainbow Bridge.” From there, she says, the phrases poured out of her, filling the back and front.
The textual content went like this:
Simply this aspect of heaven is a spot referred to as Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been particularly near somebody right here, your pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our particular associates to allow them to run and play collectively. There may be loads of meals, water, and sunshine, and associates are heat and cozy. All of the animals who’ve been ailing and outdated are restored to well being and energy, those that have been harm are made higher and powerful once more, like we keep in mind them earlier than they go to heaven. They’re completely satisfied and content material aside from one small factor—they every miss somebody very particular to them who needed to be left behind. All of them run and play collectively, however the day comes when one all of a sudden stops and appears into the gap. His shiny eyes are shining, his physique shakes. Abruptly he begins to run from the herd, speeding over the grass, his legs carrying him quicker and quicker, and whenever you and your particular good friend lastly meet, you cuddle in a contented hug by no means to be aside once more. You and your pet are in tears. Your fingers once more cuddle his head and also you look once more into his trusting eyes, so lengthy gone from life, however by no means absent out of your coronary heart, and you then cross the Rainbow Bridge collectively.
“It simply got here via my head, it was like I used to be speaking to my canine—I used to be speaking to Main,” she says. “I simply felt all of this and I needed to write it.”
Clyne-Rekhy nonetheless has the unique hand-written draft of the poem. When she confirmed it to Koudounaris, he says he instantly knew it was actual. “The remainder of her story confirmed it for me later, however I can’t full clarify the ability of these sheets.”
Although she by no means printed the poem herself, Clyne-Rekhy finally did present it to a handful of associates. “They have been all crying,” she says. They requested her if they might take copies house, so she hand-typed duplicates for them—however didn’t embody her identify.
Koudounaris suspects that it should have been handed individual to individual till it misplaced its connection to its unique creator—and finally took on a lifetime of its personal. He additionally observed discrepancies within the poem’s language that made him suspect it was a lot older than individuals assumed.
Some variations he learn, for instance, talked about animals “who’re maimed and made entire once more,” whereas others referenced animals being “returned to vigor.” These slight variations “let me know one thing vital: That this has been touring round for some time,” Koudounaris says.
Clyne-Rekhy spent years in India and later moved to an olive farm in Spain—a path that will assist to clarify why she was not conscious of the poem’s rising recognition within the U.S., Britain, and past, Koudounaris says.
“Are you able to think about?” she says. “Each vet in Britain has it!”
Koudounaris credit the enduring recognition and efficiency of “Rainbow Bridge” for a lot of Western readers to the theological want it fills. Those that have been raised Christian, he factors out, have been typically advised by dad and mom or clergymen that animals lack souls and subsequently is not going to be a part of them in Heaven.
“‘Rainbow Bridge’ supplies the lacking piece for individuals who have needed to reside with this nervousness that their animal is just not adequate to deserve an afterlife,” Koudounaris says. “It offers us a motive to hope.”
Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society, agrees that “Rainbow Bridge” has bestowed the world with “a imaginative and prescient that has introduced consolation to hundreds of thousands grieving the lack of a pet.”
“Its enduring recognition exhibits how relationships to pets matter to so many individuals throughout all walks of life,” she says. “The intimacy of these connections may also help us acknowledge our elementary obligation to take care of animals, those that are a part of our households and people within the wider world.”
As for Clyne-Rekhy, she says she already has concrete plans to be reunited with Main and her subsequent pets, whose ashes she has saved.
“We’re going to be scattered within the North Sea,” she says. “We’ll be meals for the seals.