Ashes and Memories

I wish I had something profound to post on this event, but I guess I’m kind of exhausted at the moment. It all seems like just another errand I had to run and discussing it is just another thing I ought to do. I know it is much more than that and that I should write something at least; but my heart and mind don’t want to dwell on it.

Buddy, Prince of PuppysWhat am I talking about? After work today I went by the vet’s office to pick up my dog, Buddy’s ashes.

I kind of knew what to expect and knew it would bother me. However, the thing that’s depressing me at this point isn’t so much that Buddy’s gone, but the almost everyday banality of it. Here’s the remains of my best friend and companion for 15 years and they fit in a tin box that looks like something you might get some nice holiday chocolates in or something. And I feel kind of creepy having him cremated in the first place, let alone discussing it.

I really wanted to bury Buddy as the whole idea of cremation has always bugged me with humans and seems even creepier to me for some reason with pets. However numerous things seemed to align and say that burying Buddy would not be the best choice. I wanted to stay with Buddy through the day until the end and not out digging a grave, it being late on a snowy day until he could be put to sleep. I felt uncomfortable about burying him in my parent’s yard (though they said it would be fine). I was a little concerned about missing more work, concerned with extending our grief dealing with his body until I could get him buried, etc. So before going to have Buddy put out of the pain of his last hours I had decided that the best thing would be to have him cremated. But going in to the vet I wasn’t even sure at that point whether I wanted to get his ashes back.

I have to really thank my step dad Vern, who drove me and Buddy to the vet’s that evening. I was so focused on Buddy at the time that when it came time to pay and finally decide what to do with his remains I discovered that based on our earlier conversation, Vern had taken care of everything. Needless to say I was very touched and relieved to have that part of the task taken care of.

And so today I picked up those ashes… Right now they sit in their tin box on a book shelf. My plan is that some nice day in spring, I will take them up to the mountains, and find a spot somewhere on Sleeping Indian mountain east of Buena Vista, CO (where Buddy so loved to go hiking,) that is isolated but with a good view of the valley. I’ll bury the box there, mark the position with GPS (in case I should ever want to visit again,) and build a cairn over the spot to protect and mark his grave. While the small, rectangular box seems so very wrong, this idea at least seems so very right.

I’m not as emotional as I thought I might be about this. Bothered and uncomfortable but not emotional. Other than that initial sorrow at Buddy’s passing and the trauma of that, I was at first far less emotional than I thought I would be. I remember even discussing my surprising lack of grief with a fellow dog lover who had also recently lost a canine friend. I simply felt my old, blind Buddy was finally out of his pain and discomfort. Then about a week and half later, one night when I couldn’t sleep for a variety of reasons, I found myself turning into a complete basket case. It is embarrassing to admit to myself, let alone to my non-existent blog readers, that I was so broken up after so long. I feel kind of disgusted with myself too as it seems that by breaking down like that I was feeling sorry for myself and not being respectful of my pal’s memory.

Since then I have actively tried to harvest those memories instead of trying to suppress them which I think I was trying to do. I started collecting and going through my digital photos of Buddy. For the past 4 or 5 days I’ve been picking out the best and posting two every day to a Buddy album on Picasa / Google+ which I expect will continue to grow and be refined as I gather the best stuff from throughout his long, happy life. I only wish I had taken more photos as there were so many fun times.

Long before today, I have been telling myself I need to sit down and write up all my memories of Buddy before they fade away, or before I bury them in some weak attempt to avoid a little pain or sorrow. I have put off doing that as I wanted to do it in a positive light, and not fall into the self-pity trap that I did that one night. But also I think I have been avoiding it a little as that, like this post, feels a little creepy, or obsessed with a pet’s death. But you know what? Buddy was the best damn dog I have ever had, and he deserves being remembered. So soon I will begin writing up those memories. Don’t know if I’ll make them public like this crazy post. We’ll see.

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