A Man From Arizona Finally Found The Author Of The Famous 'Rainbow Bridge' Poem: 82-Year-Old Edna Clyne-Rekhy
March 6, 2023
The Rainbow Bridge is a beautiful tribute to our furry friends that have passed. It's a poem that has touched millions of lives.
The author of the poem has remained relatively unknown — until now.
Edna and Major / Credit: Edna Clyne-Rekhy
82-year-old Edna Clyne-Rekhy had no idea that the poem she wrote over 60 years ago to honor her dog had brought comfort to so many others.
In 1959, her Labrador Retriever named Major died. He was her first dog.
"Sometimes I would just sit and talk to him, and I felt that he could understand every word I said," she told The Order of the Good Death.
The next day, she found a notebook nearby and she pulled a piece of paper from it and began writing. She felt like Major was guiding her pen.
Credit: Edna Clyne-Rekhy
After she finished it, Edna placed her pen at the top of the page and wrote "Rainbow Bridge".
She showed it to her mom who responded, "My darling girl, you are very special." Afterwards, she put the paper away, not showing it to anyone else for a long time.
Edna was only 19 years old at the time.
Years later she got married and showed the poem to her husband. He suggested she publish it, but Edna didn’t want to, telling him it was something private between herself and Major.
She eventually typed up a few copies and handed them out to close friends - but she did not add her name on those copies. As more and more people shared the poem, it became cut off from its source.
By the early 1990s it had crossed the Atlantic.
In February 1994, a woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, sent a copy of Rainbow Bridge that they had received from their local humane society to the advice column Dear Abby.
Credit: The Sacramento Bee from February 20, 1994
Paul Koudounaris, an art historian and founder of The Order of the Good Death, was on a mission to find the poem's true author. Starting in 1995, Koudounaris found records of 15 separate claims filed under the title "Rainbow Bridge" with the United States Copyright Office. He compiled a list of around 25 names he found with any connection to the poem.
He found Edna's name after seeing reference in an online chat group to an Edna Clyde from Scotland who allegedly wrote the poem when her son’s dog died. Some Googling led him to Edna Clyne-Rekhy, whose authorship of a book about her late husband and their dog made him jot her name onto the list — the only woman and the only non-American.
"What initially would have seemed like the most unlikely candidate in the end turned out to be the most intriguing candidate and, of course, the actual author," Koudounaris says.
Credit: Edna Clyne-Rekhy
Koudounaris reached out to Edna, who was very surprised he found her, and told him everything. The original poem sits in a box in her attic marked, "If you can’t find it, it’s in here."
She confessed to Koudounaris that when she took it out to take photos of it for him that she started to cry as it still carries that much emotional power for her.
"More than anything though, she is simply flattered that something she wrote so long ago has resonated with such a vast number of people—the fact that it has comforted so many is the greatest possible homage to her love for Major," Koudounaris said. "She knew nothing about the inscribed tablets in pet cemeteries. She had also never heard the abbreviation ATB, I had to explain that it meant 'At The Bridge', and that there are entire mourning groups based around those three letters, which signify the pets waiting to meet their owners at a place she invented for Major."
The Rainbow Bridge
By Edna Clyne-Rekhy
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, your pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and strength, those who were hurt are made better and strong again, like we remember them before they go to heaven. They 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 shineing (sic), his body shakes. Suddenly he begins to run from the herd, rushing over the grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cuddle in a happy hug never to be apart again. You and your pet are in tears. Your hands again cuddle his head and you look again into his trusting eyes, so long gone from life, but never absent from your heart, and then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.
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