EARLY ONE MORNING, just about to step onto our side deck for a soak in the hot tub, I narrowly avoided squashing a tiny bird lying right outside the door, obviously dead already. Laid out beautifully as if by a funeral director, with nary a feather out of place, his delicate feet stretched out behind him, pointed like a ballerina, and his pudgy brown body was topped by a tiny head sprouting a crown of white tufts. I could tell by his wide-eyed stare that his last moments had not been pleasant. “Oh great,” I thought, “a present from Lurch and it’s not even my birthday.”
The dead birds, mice and chipmunks are the worst part of owning a cat. While they don’t arrive in a steady stream, the murders occur often enough for me to feel guilty about it. After all, I am a willing accomplice, no less than Hitler’s willing executioners, without whom there would have been no Holocaust. Usually I shriek and call for my husband to come up with the “final solution.” Mitch cares not a whit, mindlessly stuffing the deceased inside a plastic bag and tossing it in the outside trash can. But he was out of town and would not return until late that night. The thought of leaving the little creature lying out there all day was too much for me, so I went to the Internet for some ideas.
I rejected putting him in the freezer until trash pick-up day a week away. That was not going to happen. My only other option was burial, which seemed a tad excessive. But then I thought, why not? Who among us does not deserve a proper farewell? It was bad enough there were no friends or family members present—his, not mine—and of course I had no way of notifying them, but at least I could usher the little guy out with a shred of dignity.
He ended up wrapped inside the editorial page from the New York Times (for the aforementioned dignity), which I then put inside an empty Lego box for a toy motorcycle (just for fun). In the woods behind our house I dug a hole about a foot-and-a-half down and carefully inserted his casket, then dragged a log over top of it to keep away any grave robbers. After shedding a few tears and repeating my mantra several times over the grave site I went in the house, washed my hands, grabbed a towel and took that hot tub soak I’d headed out for a few hours earlier.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.