I've tried hard not to think about lots of things, but especially about Aphrodite, who we lost six days ago. She's home again, as of this evening, her ashes taking their place by Frankie's on top of the fridge.
Lily rightly pointed out that Frankie is in his favorite spot, and that's not Aphrodite's, so shouldn't we put her on the dryer or deep freeze instead? Um, no? Can you imagine constantly having to move the ashes?
It's not like their plastic urns are on display (Frankie's still saying Fannie)--they're in the white gift bags with burgundy ribbons. But still, who really pictures that's what you'll do one day? Ashes on top of the fridge...and yet, that fits us, who we are, and our desire to weave into normalcy the bumps, the bruises, the losses along with the joy, the laughter, and the complicated mess that life is. I want my kids to walk through it all knowing it is what life is. Up and down, sweet and salty, poignancy and pratfalls all at the same time. I suppose that ashes on top the fridge does that.
We've buried many beloved pets, and between my parents' place and ours, there's more than ten in our backyards, each grave carefully marked and memorialized. It is a common, every day part of life for my kids. So are ashes on top of the fridge. I think this is probably a good thing, even as it makes my heart ache to place Aphrodite with Frankie.
When I was a child, we buried a hamster in our side yard, and I was forever after too scared to go to that part of the yard. I don't think I ever told my parents that, so there was no way to address that fear, and we moved from that house shortly after that. Obviously I really got over that, though.
We were fortunate when my brothers and I were kids that we really didn't have multiple pets till I was a teenager, so our losses were insignificant compared to the losses my kids have sustained. And yet, I still remember those losses, the dogs and cats we said goodbye to, even though we didn't tend to bury them at home. I think, despite my fear as a child, I far prefer knowing where my pets' remains are, that they were honored and not discarded, thrown away.
I know they are nothing more than that: bodies, ashes. I know they are gone and although I lack the certitude that there's anything beyond this, I cannot help but hope there is. Either way, marking their passing with ritual is important because they were important. And keeping them a part of us, of our daily life, well, even as it makes my heart ache missing Aphrodite, it makes me smile to know that tomorrow morning, as I get my medicine out of the fridge, I'll look up and see my two, Frankie and Aphrodite, together, and I will remember all that they gave me. That's not a bad way to start the day. It really isn't.