So, I did it. I was tearful all morning at work. The night before, I’d concentrated hard on thinking of what he would want, of asking him. I’m no animal telepathic, but my sense was that he was ready, and that he wanted to stay home, to stay on the farm. By lunchtime, I realized I just wasn’t going to make it through the day at work, so I headed for home. I told myself that I wasn’t 100% committed to it yet, and part of my mind was already trying to un-knit the decision. But, another part of me knew it was time to walk straight into my own suffering, and not shy from it any longer.
When I got home, Chessie was up and about, and vaguely glad to see me, but mostly because he wanted me to help him back inside. He promptly laid down on his blanket in the hall and fell sound asleep. It was good to see him resting well. He was breathing very slow, a little labored, and became fairly unresponsive. He didn’t acknowledge petting much at all. Maybe he was already getting ready, I felt like he knew and that he was relieved.
I was hoping to convince the vet to come out and do the procedure, so I wouldn’t have to disturb him. But they didn’t want to. I was concerned that it would distress him hauling him in the van, and that we’d have a battle to find a vein at the vet’s office. I didn’t want it to end that way. We ended up finding a friend who could do it for us, she came in the evening. Chessie was still asleep, and didn’t even seem to notice the needle, so it was very peaceful, very gentle.
Kirk kindly dug a hole in the pasture using the tractor and got everything ready. We wrapped him in some worn cotton blankets and put him in the ground, in the rain, just before dark.
This kind of burial is consistent with beliefs I’ve been developing over many years, based on a lot of reading and thinking. I object to complicated burial procedures, painted coffins, chemicals and the like-it’s not good for the environment, not natural. Cremation is also polluting, and I believe that it has the affect of delaying the grieving process. You don’t see the body; it comes back to you days or weeks later in an urn, such that your mind does not connect well with the reality of the loss. The one time I had a rescue foster dog euthanized and taken away, I had strange, irrational thoughts for weeks, momentary ideas that I’d un-do it, go get her, change my mind. I think sending the body away prolongs the denial part of the grieving process.
So, for me, this burial at home, in simple, natural cotton blankets, is right with nature, a last act of ritual and caring, and very final in the mind. And, so it is done, and I think it was right. My final realization was only this: that he had no good days, not even any good hours, left ahead. So, though the time and place were arbitrary, it seemed there was no point in delaying any longer. Now, we can all move on, we can all rest well once again.
So long Chessie, it was a good fifteen years, and I’m glad you got to enjoy some life on the farm before you left. I will miss you.