I lifted her from the box in which she appeared to be merely napping, on her side, still soft, though no longer warm. I wrapped her in a faux-needlepoint twin-fitted bedsheet my mother gave to me when my boys were just out of their cribs and which has resided these long years in the same cabinet in the bathroom. I was surprised to see it still there, this afternoon, so long unused.
Tomorrow Reilly and I will take turns digging the hole beneath the Chehalis apple tree, dislodging a few yellow tulips, some sweet woodruff.
Of course, there have been many deaths, both human and animal, for all of us. This one, though, is walloping me. Marley had belonged to my dearest of friends Carol, who passed away a year ago May 7th....a group of about twenty of us marked the occasion with a special dinner at Carol's favorite restaurant.
I've had Marley for almost three years now, but prior to that, she lived down the street, and often came in the cat door to dine with my three cats (sister to one). The story goes on in more detail, but this is all I can write about now. Suffice to say, she embodied constant gentleness in my life, a part of Carol I was able to carry with me beyond her death.
This is the poem I shall read tomorrow when we've replaced the unsettled earth:
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.