Friday, February 11, 2011

Pet Cremation Is Weird

I should probably preface this post by saying that I grieve quickly. I say this up front so that later you will hopefully remember it later and not think I'm a total asshole. So remember that, I grieve quickly. This is true of people and of animals. When my grandma passed away I was crushed up until the day of the actual burial. After that, I had closure and I moved on. I don't visit grave sites often, because the people who are dead don't know I'm there, and they aren't really there anymore either so I don't feel like I need to stop by and say hi or anything. I figure the people I love know how often I think about them once they're gone. So last week, when my cat died, I was crushed for the first few days, but by the time the vet office called me to say her ashes were in, I didn't turn into a giant crying mess. Ashes are closure.

I went to pick her ashes up this afternoon on my lunch break and I immediately realized that pet cremation is a weird thing. I've never had a pet cremated before. Growing up, we had a giant back yard and all of the family pets just got buried somewhere along our tree line. Hell, we even buried the horses when they died because my mom couldn't stand the idea of sending them somewhere to "be disposed of", so we hired a dude with a large piece of construction equipment and buried the damn horses. Unfortunately, Norbert died in the middle of the freaking winter, during a blizzard, when the ground is totally frozen. That makes burial inconvenient. Plus, our Stepford neighbors and the HOA probably wouldn't enjoy us digging up the yard to dispose of our cat. So, we had her cremated. When I went into the office the receptionist asked what I needed and I said I was there to pick up my cat's ashes. I had to stop myself from saying "my dead cat". Because really, that's what I'm getting. She suddenly became very somber, like all of those people you see running funeral homes, and said she was sorry and she would go get the ashes for me. I stood there for a bit while another person was processing a refund for the uneaten prescription food I had that obviously didn't help the cat since well...ashes.

The woman soon returned with a gift bag, I kid you not an actual gift bag containing the wrapped up remains of my cat. She said she was sorry again as I stood there thinking "This is pretty festive for death" and picked up the bag. At this point, I suddenly wished I was someone else. ANYONE else, because I deal with death strangely. I blame my dad for this. Dad diffused sad situations with funny stories about the ill or deceased person, and we all got to laugh instead of cry. So I laugh. Inappropriately. The freaking bag containing the ashes of my dead cat is heavier than the actual cat was. Intellectually I know this is because they put her ashes in a little wood box, but part of me wanted to say "Are you sure they didn't mix things up and give me a dead Rottweiler instead?" Thankfully, the mouth filter kicked in before I spit that one out. Dodged that bullet. But I did still laugh, a little. I am a terrible person. This was confirmed by the look the receptionist woman gave me.

Then I went out to the car. First I looked at the little memorial paw print they cast for us in clay, which is weirdly cute until you realize it was taken when she was dead, and then I pulled out the certificates from the pet crematorium that were in the bag. There was a bookmark with a poem, and then an actual certificate saying "Your special friend (Norbert) has received cremation services through us. We are sorry for your loss" and my first thought was "Well I hope she received cremation services, otherwise what the hell is in this freaking box?!" But I guess it's nice to know that they put a certificate in there in case we were wondering what happened to the cat and we were expecting to get her back taxidermied or freeze dried or something. Nope, just cremated, got a certificate to prove it.

That's when I did it. I pulled the wood box out of the bag and looked at it. My first thought was "What the hell?! This thing is literally sealed shut. How am I supposed to sprinkle her around Stalin if I can't get the box open?!" and then I wondered why they'd seal it so carefully. Maybe they charged me $120 and gave me a BS certificate but did not really provide cremation services. Maybe the world is being ripped off by The Man. So I did it. I shook the box to see if it sounded like there was anything inside. It did. Now, for all I know, it's the scrapings out of someone's fireplace or something, but at least there's a bag of something in there and I'm content to believe it's my cat. Or a Rottweiler. I'm just saying, that box was heavy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leave Your Message at the Beep

I haven't disappeared. I just haven't had anything to write about. I've been in a bit of a funk the past week or so, and the words and rants and usual fodder for blog entries just aren't there right now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So Long, Thanks For the Ride

My cat died today. I know this is small and insignificant in the large scheme of universal affairs, but in my small and not so significant world, this matters. It matters for a lot of reasons. Norbert was the first pet Jason and I got when we moved in together. She has been with us through 9 years of our lives together. She was the first kitten we picked from her litter, she was all personality and attitude and she was probably the most fun pet we have ever owned. She was ours unconditionally. She loved no one in the same way as she loved us. And she loved no one in this world as much as she loved Jason. Even today, at the end of everything, she still tried to purr when he held her. She was our cat, and we loved her.

And, at the end of everything, I wasn't there. I didn't get to see her. For the second time in my life I found myself painfully absent as someone I loved passed away. I was somewhere else, and I didn't get to say goodbye. And I know she was a cat, and I know I will get over it eventually, but it's just another reminder of losing someone or something I care about and not having a chance to say goodbye. Once again, I should have been there, and I wasn't. That hurts.

Now, tonight, as I sit here in my house it seems too quiet without her. Nothing has changed really, but somehow it feels like there's a hole in here somewhere. Everything feels too still, like the house is waiting for her. Fluffy is waiting for her. She has been wandering the house, meowing like she's lost something, and I can't help but feel awful because she doesn't understand. And, frankly, neither do I. It wasn't supposed to end the way it did. But at least I can intellectualize it. But it figures that if Norbert was going to go out, it wouldn't be quietly. It's fitting that she'd ride out on a hellish blizzard, wreaking havoc on the innocent. She had no intention of going quietly.

So, farewell my Stalinistic little kitty. Thanks for letting us have 9 years. Sorry I missed the last minutes.