Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Opening the Box

Today, I finally got up the nerve to open the box containing my grandmother's ashes. The ashes had been sent to me by my uncle in a very large package that has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a month, maybe more.

Today, I looked at the box that obtrusively stuck out from the edge of the bookshelf into the living room. I said, "Sweetie, I think I'm ready to open the box." She had to run out urgently, but promised to be back as soon as she could. I told her I'd wait until she came back. I didn't want to open the box while I was alone.

Once she got back, I pulled out the Exacto knife and started running it along the edges of tape around the box. I carefully pulled back the lid and cautiously removed the styrofoam packing material.

The smaller box inside is also made out of cardboard. This surprised me, as my mother-in-law's dog's ashes had come to her in a plastic box. I commented on how cheap the cardboard box seemed. Sweetie said it was because they expect me to buy an urn.

I won't be buying an urn. I have contacted Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah and will be taking her remains (or cremains, as they called them) there. They have been incredibly supportive, offering to help with a service if we want to do one. I chose this place for several reasons.

1) My grandmother was a life-long animal lover. I think she liked animals more than she liked people. She was also an assertive advocate for animal rights.
2) My grandmother introduced me to Best Friends.
3) The cemetary at Best Friends is beautiful.
4) My grandmother was one of my best friends.

I am even happier with this decision having gotten such a warm response from the staff at Best Friends. I'm not sure when we'll take her. I'll be sure to let family know in case anyone wants to join us. Utah is pretty far for my family to travel, but it's a gorgeous part of the country, so who knows.

In the meantime, this smaller box sits back where the larger box had been. I feel like there has been an emotional shift that has happened concurrently. My grandmother becomes less and less a solid being of this earth and more and more of a warm place in my heart that will always be with me.

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