The Obitaki: A Love Story
Kayla and Rex sat under a crimson sky as the sun gently set behind the serene waters of the Obitaki River. Lost in thought, Kayla wiggled her toes through the cold, smooth mud of the shoreline, and gazed at the river as it headed out to sea. The night air was crisp as her fingers combed through Rex’s golden hair, as they had done hundreds of times over the years. Rex looked up at Kayla his breathing labored; he settled in resting his head on her lap. Kayla’s tears began to flow. “I’m going with you Rex, I am going with you.”
Kayla was 2 years old when Rex came into her life, a cute, cuddly bundle of fur, she squealed with delight when she saw him. A Golden Retriever she later learned, a line as pure as they come. And so it began, Kayla and Rex were inseparable. At age 10 Kayla learned about therapy dogs and found a local society that trained dogs and their owners to become companions to the sick and elderly in hospitals. Too young to join herself, Kyla’s Mom signed on for Kayla. It wasn’t long before Kayla and Rex were one of the best and most requested teams.
Weeks were always busy with school, friends and the therapy work Kayla and Rex enjoyed. They were always on the go. Then one day just a few months ago, it started out like any other day, except this day Rex was too tired to jump into the car to visit patients at the hospital. A vet appointment revealed a cancerous tumor that was stage 4. Rex only had a few months to live.
Now, 2 months after the diagnoses, Rex with his head on Kayla’s lap was resting quietly. Kayla’s hand lay softly on his fluffy golden fur as she scratched behind his ear. Rex, do you remember that first day at the hospital? She looked at Rex and smiled. Rex, I was so excited that day I could barely control myself, but you were a perfect example of strength and gentleness. You walked slowly to each person waiting for their invitation to come closer. Then moved closer with your head down so they could pet you. You seemed human Rex, you have always had some innate qualities that appear almost human.
The tears began to flow as Kayla leaned over to hug her dear companion. Rex what am I going to do without you? My life will be empty, no human or canine can take your place. I took one of Dad’s guns today, he won’t miss it. It is under the seat of my car so I can go with you when it is time. Rex opened one eye and looked at her, his dry tongue brushed against her hand. Kayla said, “I love you too Rex."
Rex, do you remember Mr. and Mrs. Killary we called them Mr. and Mrs. K. She was such a sweet old lady. We stayed with her and Mr. K as he passed on. Mr. K loved you, Rex. He was the one who requested us on a regular basis. You liked him too I could tell. Of course, you liked everyone, but you and Mr.K. had a special bond.
On one of our visits, Mrs. K. sat beside me while you were lying next to Mr. K. She began to tell me their story. “Honey,” she said,” Mr. K. and I have been married for 62 glorious years. There isn’t a better-looking or nicer man on this planet! We were married when I was 18, and he was 25 years old. She winked at me and said ‘he was an older man.’ We were married by a Justice of the Peace.” My parent didn’t approve of Mr. K., and felt I was too young to get married. They did, over the years, come to love him. Everyone loved him!”
Kayla grabbed a satchel sitting beside her, it is time for your medicine Rex do you have the strength? Please say you do! Rex lifted his head and took the drops in his mouth and some water. Kayla wiped his mouth, thank you, Rex.
Then Rex, Mrs. K went on, “It looks like our love story is coming to an end. I will miss him so so much. My life, however, couldn’t have been better. We had 3 boys, and they married 3 beautiful women. We now have 11 amazing grandchildren. They will all be here tomorrow. They are my reason to go on living. Will you come back tomorrow so you can meet them?
Yes, I told her we will be here in the afternoon. I look forward to meeting everyone. See you tomorrow.
As we left the room Rex, Mrs. K. walked with us down the corridor. As we were ready to walk out the door. Mrs. K. said “Kayla, I want to give you something. I know your 15th birthday is just around the corner, and you will have a boyfriend soon.”
“No, that isn’t necessary, you and Mr. K. have done enough.”
“Shhh, this is a gift from my heart.” She placed a necklace in my hand. Rex, you were sniffing my hand trying to understand what it was.
“Kayla, this is a necklace Mr. K gave me on our first anniversary. This was mine, it is half a heart, it says “forever” pointing out the word. Mr. K.’s said “Best Friends,” but he lost his many years ago. This, you can say is an original. Long before they started mass producing them. I want to give this to you. I am hoping this will bring you a man as wonderful as Mr. K. because you, Kayla, are very special.
I held it up, “ it is beautiful.” And hugged Mrs.K., tears filled my eyes. “Thank You, Mrs. K., I too, hope I find a husband as wonderful as Mr. K.”
“See you tomorrow Kayla. Always know we both love you dearly.”
“Thank you, Mrs. K. see you tomorrow.” We walked out the door of the hospital, I have never felt such profound love and gratitude before. They were the two kindest people I had ever met.”
Come on Rex, there is Mom over there pointing to the visitor parking area. Kayla opened the back hatch, Rex jumped in and settled into his bed. Hey, Mom, Kayla said, climbing into the front seat. Mrs. K. told me they have been married for 62 years. I hope I am married for 62 years and as happy as they have been. I am going back tomorrow to meet the whole family. I hope that is okay.
Sure, sweetie, I will have time to give you a ride.
The ride home was quiet as Kayla thought about the words Mrs. K. said: “Always know we both love you dearly.” As she looked at the gift of love Mrs. K. placed in her hand.
Kayla and Rex arrived at the hospital, the next day, at 3pm, the room was full of Mr. and Mrs. K.’s family.
“Hi Kayla,” Mrs. K. greeted me. Come on in. Rex you pushed right past me ready to meet new friends. You were like a magnet, the children were by your side in seconds. “This is the family Kayla, the wives aren’t here yet they are at my house preparing the Thanksgiving celebration for tomorrow.
Kayla I was thinking about you and how you are starting out on lifes journey as ours our winding down. I want you to know our lives are always filled with people just like us. Look at your life and your friends I am sure they are all fantastic people. Your family and friends, those that are part of you now and will be in the future, they are counting on you as you rely on them, always be there for them and if life allows, they will be there for you.”
“After Mrs. K. imparted those words she kissed me on the cheek and turned to play with you and the grandchildren, she seemed so young for her 80 years.”
“Rex, Rex the urgency raised in Kayla’s voice. Rex took a few more shallow breaths as his spirit left his body.
Rex, I love you!!!”
“Your family and friends, those that are part of you now and will be in the future, they are counting on you as you rely on them, always be there for them and if life allows, they will be there for you.”
Sophia began to squirm, and let out a few cries. Kayla was in Sophi’s room before she was fully awake. Hey, sweetie I know you are hungry, let’s change your diaper then we can get something to eat. She gently laid Sophi on the changing table. Kayla glanced over her shoulder, good morning RJ I see our little Sophie woke you too. RJ pushed on the magnetized door to open it, grabbed a diaper, and turned to Kayla. Thanks, boy, you are such a help. His golden fur glimmering from the low light of Sophia’s room.
Okay, she is dry now, time to feed her and back to bed.
Kayla sat in her recliner nursing Sophie who was just 2 weeks old. She held Sophie in her left arm and with the right arm was petting RJ.
It had been 6 years since she sat on the Obitaki shore with Rex during his last night on this earth. Her eyes still welled up with tears when she thought about that night, and the story she told Rex as his spirit was preparing to pass on to the world beyond. Mrs. K’s. words impacted that night. “Your family and friends, those that are part of you now and those who will be in the future, are counting on you as you rely on them, always be there for them, and if life allows, they will be there for you.”
The words “Your family, those who will be in the future” were quite poignant at that moment as I was thinking of taking my own life. I would have hurt so many people. I wouldn’t have met the man of my dreams or holding dear sweet Sophie. And you RJ (short for Rex Junior) are from the same line as Rex your great-grandfather, and so much alike, almost human. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting you.
Life is about ups and downs. About making memories, and loving those around you. Be there for them in the good times and bad times. Everyone hurts during their lifetime, don't cover it up. Reach out for support.