Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Companionship - A Visit to Rainbow Bridge

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As the injection was being administered this past Wednesday morning I was holding her head softly, kissing her fur-coated neck. At that moment I never realized how much I loved and would miss Adidas, our beloved dog of 14 years. As I hugged her gently, I felt her heart stop, and witnessed her head drop as the medication took effect. My tears became streams of emotion and remembrance. With my head buried in her nape, I thanked her for her spirit, love and companionship she shared with my family and myself over these many years. During the course of her four legged life she had given us so much and had taken so little. No animosity, greed, self-centeredness, envy, jealousy, bitterness, anger, bigotry, ego, nor any other human deficiency did she ever demonstrate, only the selfless love a dog can share. A definition of companionship is, “one of a pair of things intended to complement or match each other.” Anyone who has ever had an animal companion understands how perfect this definition is. It is a subtle emotional relationship that is unique, loving and never broken. Although they are not children, our pets are an extension of our family, and provide an element of belonging and togetherness that unifies what it means to be a family even further. As we shared the news of her death with family, my nephew shared a note, which stated, “All dogs go to heaven”. I have no doubt.

A friend of mine made me aware of Rainbow Bridge, a place I had never heard of before, but I look forward to crossing it with Adidas some day in the future. She shared the following, “Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent, his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look deeply 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……”

Another friend shared with me a poem she had written, that I am sure anyone who has lost or will lose the friendship of a pet will relate too, and forever hold this poem dear in their heart. “In Memory of Adidas” – “I lost a special friend today, the kind you can’t replace, and looking at her empty bed, I still can see her face. We shared life’s many journeys for precious memories do not die. With one last kiss upon her head I told my best friend goodbye. God welcomed her to a special place, designed for life’s loyal friends, where she’s running through fields of flowers, healthy and whole again. I know she’s watching over me, she’s beside me when I cry. Each tear a happy memory sent, from her new home just beyond the sky.” Let us all extend a breath of selfless companionship and loyalty to those we love. As a grown man, it was unexpected, yet invigorating to feel an innocent love be revealed by the nature of an animal who loved me for just being me. It also provided me further validation of what is most important in life, for it is not what we possess, but rather whom we love that is everlasting. Give those you love an extra tight hug tonight, human and pet alike. My animal companion is running, jumping, swimming and once again the queen of the lake. Rest in peace a precious piece of my heart.



True Friendship - Standing the Test of Time

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What is true friendship, and who are your genuine friends? You may have many acquaintances, but are they true friends? A friend is defined as, “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” As the days of our lives pass by with the joys and sorrows we experience, it is the presence of friends that enhance our experience of joy, and provide compassion during time of sorrow. Each day of my life the bonds and spirits of friendships are always present. It is reflective in my understanding of the golden rule; treat others, as you would like to be treated.

A true friend inspires goodness, empathy and mutual respect, which is the foundation for the establishment of friendship. It is a bond that transcends time and distance, and invigorates memories of happiness, fun, excitement, challenge, sadness and perseverance all in one sphere of trust. True friendship is not judgmental but supportive in good times and bad. It is having the courage to care enough to share a concern about the other. It is honest and never deceptive nor manipulative. It is a unity of life between two human beings where the experiences of one are the experiences of the other. It is a mechanism of unparalleled support and love that never dies, and is always appreciated. It is a relationship different from both marriage and the parental bond with children, because it is commonly formed during early and transitioning stages of life. Life long friends share a journey in our personal growth different than our parents. It is a journey to grow with another at the same time, stage and place in life, which is the glue that solidifies friendship. In similarity to parents, friends have watched us grow into what we are, and have witnessed where we have come from. Friends share in our mistakes and successes, make fun of us and praise us, yet love us for who we are.

Although technology has enhanced the speed and our capability to communicate with one another, it has also created a world of pseudo friends. Social networking sites, i.e. facebook, etc. have provided an outlet to share our lives with those around us, but how many of our Internet acquaintances are really true friends? Would they ever put your agenda and needs before their own? Would they literally be there for you because you needed them? Do they really care about you, or is it just an opportunity to project themselves on to others? Reflecting on the people I have come to know over many years, there are still those who shine above the rest in regard to friendship. A true friend you may meet at the age of six will be a true friend when you turn sixty.

To explain why those we love enter our lives when they do should not be explained but just celebrated. Let the wonderment and mystery of life long friendships be the catalyst in a belief that we are never alone. They anchor us when the sea of life is unsteady, and yet encourage us to continue the journey. A friend is one who jumps aboard when others have abandoned ship. True friendship is also selfless. It is a genuine gratitude to be part of another’s life and share in all that can be shared. They do not focus on your faults, but always see your strengths. As Helen Keller stated, “With the death of every friend I love, a part of me has been buried, but their contribution to my being of happiness, strength, and understanding remains to sustain me in an altered world.” Reflecting on the recent gathering of family and friends at my daughter Nicole’s wedding, it reinforced how joyous life can be, and how wonderful it is to share a piece of your own life with those friends you love most. It is a collective energy and unity that never dies and goes beyond the confines of this physical world. Genuine friendships create a treasure chest of love, respect and richness in life that is priceless and forever memorable. As the beauty of a flower is expressed through its’ petals, so is the beauty of who we are expressed through our friends.



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