I got the new nameplate weeks ago, but it sits on my bar in a little ceramic tray holding rooster salt and pepper shakers.
Yup, there hidden under the pink iguana and lalaloopsie toy behind the toy insects. It seemed like a good place for it.
This weekend, my awesome son, who stretches out new shoes for me, willingly no less, commented to me about Frankie. "When are we going to give him a proper burial?" He's had, bless him, the hard tasks of burying three other pets this past year. Ibit wasn't cremated, and while Rick did the hard work of taking Ib to the vet and bringing his body home, the boy and I cried while digging his grave. It was, while not good work, good work for the soul, to honor this beloved cat. We planted flowers round him, found a nice large stone, and ordered a memorial stone. He repeated the grave digging with my parents' two dogs, whose remains were cremated, and so it makes sense to him that we bury our pets, whether cremated or not.
I told him, my son who doesn't understand this unprecedented delay in a ritual we have always performed over the years (with Max, with Shadow, with a stray cat who died in my parents' side yard, and much earlier, with Boots, with Honey), that I was not ready and Frankie was fine on the refrigerator, where he'd loved to perch and watch everyone.
"But his spirit won't be at rest till he's given a proper burial!" Bobby insisted, which made me exasperated,wondering where he got that idea, how he could not think that his spirit wasn't perfectly happy on the fridge where he could still see everything. Okay, that was truthfully my third thought. My first was where comes up with these things. My second was that if we're going to engage in magical thinking...and then I thought that.
Don't you think, if we really hang around and watch over (and how I hope something continues and pray that it does), he's much happier where he is? I am.
Now, to make the boy happier with that, to get him to realize there are all kinds of ways to honor our lost. Mine is to keep photos of my cats who've gone on out, and there are lots of photos out of Ib and Frank. Mine is to look through the photo albums online and remember something happy about them.
I carry my lost with me, whether they be beloved cats or people, and that perhaps is the greatest lesson I can teach my son and daughters: that we carry them on with us, we honor them each time we think of them and share with others a fond memory, whether it's my maternal grandmother grabbing my face and shaking it and asking where her supper was or my paternal grandmother and her habit of collecting the cheapest knickknacks (which I have, many in my bathroom where I can see them each morning, and spread throughout the house), or my grandfathers, gruff men I did not know well. My maternal grandfather and his blue sweater, him running down the road chasing after our dog. My paternal grandfather who did not go gently, but went mad as hell.
And so many more. We each carry our lost with us, and as we grow, we carry more and more. The trick, the lesson, is not to be so weighed down in the carrying that we can no longer move forward.