Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ashes to Ashes

I always thought that I would prefer to be cremated instead of buried. It just seemed so much simpler to me. The logistics and expense of a cemetery burial are not something I wanted to saddle my grieving (I hope!) family with. All kidding aside, I was fairly certain of this until this morning, when in anticipation of the contractor coming to begin work in the laundry room in what was the former pantry, we found Conan....on the shelf. We had inadvertently forgotten his ashes there, where he was placed last year after he had to be put to sleep. Conan was a dog, not a person, but he was no less a member of our family than the rest of us. He was the best dog that ever loved me. He didn't love everyone, but he loved me. It was the hardest thing we ever had to do, putting him down. Jerry was the hero and took him for his last visit to the vet. I couldn't do it. Jerry had a really hard time of it, but he knew it was the only choice for Conan. He had been diagnosed with cancer, and it was his time. I feel that there is no greater gift you can give your dog than to be with him at the end. Holding him and telling him how much he is loved. I couldn't do it, but Jerry did. He is my hero. He had behavior issues (Conan, not Jerry), sometimes drastically missing near-disaster only because we were present. He was a loose cannon. I'm sure we have friends and family who thought we were nuts with Conan's behaviorist and training and doing everything we could to keep him, even when we were afraid of his personality with others. But when you love a dog, you love everything. Just like family. So, like I was saying, we were devastated when he had to be put down. We decided to ask for his ashes and intended to spread them here in the country where Conan was happiest. He just loved running free and exploring everything he could. He was a big dog, bigger than Jake, and he could run like the wind. His big ears would flop behind him as he thundered through the woods, and he was just plain joyful. That's where we wanted his ashes to be placed. It has been more than a year since we were here all together with the kids and their SO's (significant others), so we decided to wait. We put the box of ashes on the pantry shelf, where it was safe. Over time, we began to collect things for the house. Extra serving dishes and crockpots. The pantry is where we stored batteries, flashlights, and recyclables. Jerry has been accumulating jars for honey preparation, and I acquired canning accessories at Christmas. It all came up here over the past year, and got put in the pantry. Slowly and unintentionally, Conan got pushed back further and further. We have not had the opportunity to be together so we could let his ashes go with some dignity, and so we chose to wait. Until this morning. I was crushed to see that we had in fact forgotten him and the purpose of saving his ashes. He was left on the shelf like a box of Duncan Hines. I am mortified. How did this happen? We loved him! And if it happened to Conan, it could happen to any of us. Do I want to end up on the pantry shelf, with all the other utility items? It is completely understandable as to how it can happen, and I don't want to be that box. So now I must debate the question all over again. Burial or cremation? Jerry and I don't agree. He wants burial and is very clear about that. I'm still not sure. It may sound morbid to be discussing this, but the older we get, the more important the question becomes. I want everyone to know what I want, so they don't have to suffer through the decision while they are already suffering. I also want to have SOME control over this last party that I attend. Then again, coming from a group of superb party planners, I could just leave it up to them. All this on my mind because we found Conan on the back shelf. I think we will let him free this week. He deserves it. He was a good dog. I hope the burial/cremation question will answer itself for me. We'll see how it goes with Conan. I hope I will feel like he got the burial that would make him happy. Will there be some sign? I don't know. I will be looking for one. We'll see. But he's off the pantry shelf, and back in my thoughts. Maybe that's the sign. I was forgetting, and now I'm not. There is nothing like a good dog who loves you. It's pretty simple. Unconditional love and a loyal friend. We should all be so consistent with each other, the way a dog is. Thanks Conan....for the reminder. I needed it.

No comments: