The annual planting also gave me a long-awaited opportunity to say a final goodbye to a friend. When my furry friend, Simone, suddenly died last November of liver cancer, it was a terrible loss. Though I am not one for long drawn out goodbyes, I requested her ashes so I could sprinkle them in the backyard - her beloved domain.
However, when I brought the ashes home and looked around the yard, I realized that winter was setting in and all the plants were dead or dormant. Didn't seem right to just dump her out there in the cold. (I know, I know, ashes don't get cold but STILL.)
And so, I opted to wait until spring, when the color green would return and a new cycle of life would appear. Then, Simone could be sprinkled out there amongst the dirt, helping things grow.
After sitting in my living room for nearly seven months, I finally opened the box that read:
"Denver Pet Cemetery and Crematory hereby certifies that on November 9th, 2008 there was cremated the body of Simone Clisby at the request of Alameda East Veterinary Hospital who duly identified the body as that of the above named decedent, and these are the cremated remains."
And there sat a little plastic bag full of grey ash; a black furry being reduced to a handful of powder.
After digging a hole for each plant, I put a handful of tomato/veggie food in and around. Then, I'd remove my gardening gloves and reach for the plastic bag. I wanted to really feel those last bits of her and sift through them before sprinkling her ashes into the earth.
I found mostly bits of bone but did come across a metal staple, a remnant of an overzealous grooming accident. Her hair would get so matted up and I tried to cut off clumps with shears and accidentally cut her. To her credit, she never complained and the vet had to confront me: "Did you try to cut off her matted hair yourself with scissors?"
Me: "(Gulp!) Um, well ... yes, I did. Why? What did I do?"
Vet: "Wow, that's amazing. I can never get anyone to admit to that ....everyone always denies it."
Good lord, I had mangled my own pet - it's just as well I don't have children. Anyway, she had to get staples to close the wound and I hired a pro groomer every year after that.
I've got more planting to do today and will again sprinkle her remains throughout. I couldn't think of any appropriate words yesterday so I'd just kept saying, "Thank you, Simone." Anyway, I hear mournful gratitude really helps those tomatoes, zukes and peppers shine ...