Final Goodbye, Amelia

Well, today I learned all about the shock part of culture shock, while sending Amelia Kitty (pictured at right) to her final rest.

After Amelia was put to sleep in April, the vet’s office kept the body while I decided what to do with it. At first, I thought I’d bury her in a friend’s garden, but then I bought the house and decided to inter her somewhere in my new backyard. Yesterday, my friends Mark and Kathy came over and Mark dug a good-sized hole. They left the shovel for me to fill the hole in after I picked up Amelia from the vet’s office this a.m.

Okay, here’s the shock part. When I last lost a cat, the fearsome Herkimer, in Reno, the body came to us in a lidded box with reinforced sides — a product obviously meant to be a pet coffin and most likely sold to veterinarian offices as such. So I’ve been thinking, hey, I’m a big girl, independent and strong, I can face picking up Amelia in her lidded cardboard coffin and burying her.

Ah, but the vet office in Reno was in the poshest neighborhood in town and was an expensive, cancer-specializing facility. The veterinarian I use here, while professional and caring, is a small office in a small town. That difference didn’t occur to me until I was handed an ordinary cardboard box, the kind of thing you’d bring home from work to pack some paperback books in, perhaps, heavy with frozen, unwrapped Amelia Kitty. I could see her dull orange fur between the lose top flaps and smell frozen, yet slightly off, meat.

I had to stop on the drive home so I could cry. When I got home, I cried a bit more.

Then I took out a favorite t-shirt, getting a bit old and thin but still worth wearing for the silk-screened design. I wrapped Amelia in it and put her in the hole and filled it in. Kathy and I had chosen a heavy, flat white stone, big as a paver, from the front garden to place as a marker and dog-digging discouragement — I put that on top and heaped some more dirt around it.

And so that was my morning. Amelia was a little orange terror with moments of sweetness — the most memorable of which were her snuggling under the covers to sleep with me. I miss her all over again, which she deserves.

But when, inevitably, another of my little furry or feathery friends has to be put to sleep, I’m going to provide my own box.

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