Today I had the sad task of going to the Animal Companion Funerary Services Provider in order to collect the ashy remains of our beloved Hakuna.
There’s a school of thought that, when it comes to the final arrangements for the family pet, favors the Backyard Burial. It’s a perfectly reasonable approach, one that also works for certain unpleasant relatives and business associates... but in the latter instances, it leaves one open to certain, ahhh, issues. But for some reason, we in Clan Elisson have fallen into the practice of cremating our furry Loved Ones after they have departed for the Rainbow Bridge.
I will confess that, in a strange way, it is comforting to know that there is still some physical evidence of our kitties’ existence within easy reach: Now Hakuna (or at least her Powdery Remnant) shares shelf space at Chez Elisson with her predeceased sister Matata and her sometimes-rival, the Mistress’s kitty Neighbor. And since cats are beyond the purview of human religious practice, I feel no compunction against the practice of cremation, which, while eminently practical, falls outside of the norms of my faith community - for people, anyway. (Those norms aside, certain twentieth century historical events make the cremation of Jewish decedents an especially odious practice.)
When I drove over to Brookhaven, I was surprised to find that the unprepossessing little white building that had been the home of the ACFSP three years ago - the last time we had had need of their services - was nowhere to be seen. In its place was a huge, newly constructed three-story brick tower. But the sign out front told me that I was in the right place.
There was a beautifully designed lobby, done up with brick and glass in warm, soothing earth hues. The receptionist and other personnel spoke in hushed, reverential tones. There was a showroom with an assortment of doggy- and kitty-caskets on display, along with a vast assortment of urns, jars, and other keepsakey items. And this was not cheesy merch, oh, no. All of it spoke of quiet elegance, dignity, and respect.
Between the lobby and the showroom there was a small chapel with padded seats and a small raised platform in front, clearly intended to provide a place for Fluffy’s bier during her funeral service. I could only wonder what sort of religious elements people would bring in to such a service. Would they offer a full requiem mass? Recite the Meowner’s Kattish?
This was merely ground level. What was on the two upper levels? I could only imagine.
I resisted my usual impulse to view the place through the lens of Snark, despite my having written this post. After all, these people were providing us with a service, albeit a non-essential one. (The Backyard Option, after all, is always open.) Yet that service had proven comforting to us in the past and was indeed comforting this time as well.
But, my Gawd - the money! These new digs were, dare I say, a tad on the opulent side. An Edifice for Rex, if you will. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that, for it says to me that the economy, as much as people are constantly griping about it, cannot possibly be all that bad.
As I have observed before, when a nation’s economy is such that people have the kind of disposable income that will buy a casket and perpetual care for Phideaux, they ain’t hurting too badly. If we, collectively, are wealthy enough so that entire supermarket aisles are devoted to dog and cat food, we really cannot call our situation dire.
Dire is when you eat the dogs, not feed them.
Update: Hakuna’s valedictory trip on the Friday Ark’s 404th voyage is here at the Modulator.
Update 2: Carnival of the Cats #449, with Hakuna’s farewell appearance, is up at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.