I put Pyramus to sleep on Friday, October 30th and today I picked up his ashes. Which seems terribly final. I was there when he died and they wrapped him up in a towel and carried him away and you would think that would be final enough. But I've been walking in the door every night half expecting him to be waiting for me. The cremation company puts the ashes in a little tin then wraps them up like a gift and sticks a brochure in the bag detailing all the fancy urns you can buy. But lest you think that's rather capitalist of them, the brochure also informs you that there's a private funeral room and an on-site grief counselor. Which all seems over-the-top to me because I don't tend to think of animals as little people. But then again I'm the atheist who needed her cat's ashes so she can bury him in her mother's garden so I don't exactly have a monopoly on logic here.
I'll spare you the stories about what a spectacular cat he was--though they would be true, of course--but I do want to write a little about his death. He was small and sick and mine and I spent so much time in the last year focused on his health that to suddenly find myself free of that concern is disconcerting. It's a lonely thing to suddenly have no beloved obligations waiting at home. When I get up in the morning and realize that there are no pills to be cut into fourths, no supplements to be measured out, no food to be portioned, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.
I came home that night to all the things that needed to be cleaned up: opened cans of cat food with which I was trying to tempt him, chicken breasts in the freezer that I won't eat, open cans of tuna that I drained in order to give him the tuna-flavored water, clothes on the bathroom floor that I didn't pick up because he'd taken to sleeping on them, litter, his bottles of medicine . . . And then there were the things that I needed to just store away: litter boxes, the scratching post, the cat carrier, the water fountain. It was all a little overwhelming.
All that is taken care of now though. The things that needed to be tossed have been tossed. The things that can be saved for a new cat somewhere down the line are stored in closets and cabinets. So it's nice to have the tin with his ashes in it, tucked away next to the plants because he always liked them and that seems like as good a place as any to keep them for the time being. It's still sad, but it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it, and now at least everything seems neatly wrapped up.