Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Improper Poll: Water to Water

I recently mentioned that my daughter’s fish died. This was an especially sad thing, because this female beta named Rory (named after a Gilmore Girl, I believe) was my daughter’s first pet for which she was solely responsible. It was her “college fish.” Even sadder, Rory had developed a tumor that she’d been struggling with for quite a while. To quote from her eulogy, Rory really was a fighting fish.

When the children were little, we had hamsters. They are cute, easy to care for, and I honestly think they are perfectly happy living their whole lives in a little plastic cage as long as they’re well cared for. But they live about a nanosecond, so it felt like we were always doing hamster funerals. I got pretty good at those.  I even made little hamster headstones out of a mini muffin tin and plaster of Paris.

I had my last dog cremated and we buried the ashes under a marble headstone.  Then we moved, so it seemed almost pointless. When Buddy passed away, I did have him cremated, but I didn't retrieve the remains this time. I was going to bury one of his toys, but in the end, I wanted to keep it.

I told my daughter I’d respect her choice of funerals. When she was a little girl, she got upset with me for giving one of our fish the “water burial." But a land burial for a water creature just didn’t feel right. This time she agreed, and it was a nice service—though our funeral party of three was a little crowded in the bathroom we chose.

Do you have a special way of remembering your late pets?


  1. I had a bet boa constrictor. When it died, it got thrown into the trashcan. (That sounds terribly callous, I know.)

    I've seen people create Shutterfly or other types of books to remember a dog or cat. We took a photo of one our dogs to Walgreens and had a "glass" rectangular prism-shaped sculpture made, with Trixie's photo etched on it. (To add to the cheesy-ness of it, it sits on a plastic base and lights up, with the colors of the light shifting.)

    I am sorry for your loss. But I'm sure Rory is having a great time with all the other fish "angels" in the sea.

  2. Around here, we mainly want to remember them as staying buried. Fish, kitten, and dogs are in the side yard, six inches under, covered by an old wheelbarrow until such time the other dogs forget about them, or the ground hardens up.

    Chickens (the parts not digested by predators) are cremated over a funeral pyre. The goat required a neighbor's backhoe.

    The boys did say a few meaningful words over the kitten and dogs.

  3. For me, I believe we bury our pets in our heart. They live again whenever we remember them. I love the final paragraphe of O'Neill's Last Will and Testament for Blemie...

    "One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."

    Critter Alley

  4. I'm kind of weird. Both our dogs are buried in the side yard, and it hurts so much to think of them gone that I cry everytime I think about it. I was going to make a boarder with large rocks and put up crosses this summer, but it slipped my mind. Maybe I will get to work on that; thanks for reminding me. I mostly just keep them in my heart and have pictures of them in the house though.

    Sorry about your daughter's loss; pets of all sizes are very much a part of the family.

    Kathy M.

  5. For my part I'd prefer they just stay buried. Whatever they were in life they are no longer in death. Hopefully they're in a better place.

    ...And I always remember the words immortalized by Stephen King: "Sometimes they come back."

  6. When married to first husband, his dog was cremated and I'm sure he still has the remains. My poor kids had to always give away their pets (for reasons out of our control) before they died. It's going to be a sad day when that happens.


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