Letting the Cat out of the Bag


My cat is in a Brown Thomas bag in the corner of our converted garage which is now an office cum general purpose room . He has been there for the past six months and I don’t know what to do with him. One might wonder how I have managed to keep my cat in a bag for six months even if it is a Brown Thomas bag, but the sad fact is that the cat is dead and his ashes are in a beautiful wooden box concealed in the BT bag, simply because I cannot bear to look at them. But the other problem is that I cannot bury them either because the family are not ready yet.

To tell the truth I should have followed my vet’s advice and let him ‘take care of everything,’ but I’d had the cat for seventeen years and it was difficult to let go. He was part of the family. He was only a couple of years younger than our youngest child, and to tell the truth he was better behaved than all of my children put together. He slept for hours on end, ate everything I gave him without a moan, never talked back or got angry, washed and groomed himself without my help and loved me unconditionally. His death was a source of great heartbreak and heartache to me and since I’m beyond digging a hole large enough to bury the cat, the vet kindly offered to ‘take care of it all.’

It was only when I arrived home and the children asked ‘when are we getting his ashes back’ that the problems began. When I explained to them that as it was not an individual cremation we wouldn’t have them back World War 3 broke out.
‘We need his ashes back. We need closure’ they echoed in unison. (They are of the friends generation when closure was a big word for the ending of relationships and in fairness they loved the cat.) 

And so after a frantic dash to the vet by my husband the necessary arrangements were made for an individual cremation.

Three weeks later there was a message on the phone from the vet’s secretary. ‘We have your cat here,’ she said. For an instant I felt happy again but then reality hit. Why didn’t she say what she meant? ‘We have your cat’s ashes here.’ would have sounded better.

I collected my cat and brought him home in a beautiful box which was very tastefully presented alongside a certificate of authenticity to verify individual cremation. When the kids arrived home from work and dinner was over I announced that ‘the cat’s ashes are home,’ I had learned from the vet’s secretary and I was not going to announce that ‘the cat was home.’
‘Gross.’ They echoed in unison. ‘We don’t want to see them.’
‘But you wanted them,’ I replied. ‘In fact I paid 200 Euro for them.’ I was getting very frustrated now.
‘Well we’re not ready to look at them yet,’ I was told firmly and politely and so I put them in the BT bag to try to camouflage them and placed them in the corner of the computer room/general purpose room. I think I silently hoped they would eventually get buried under some junk. Every one knows that they are there in the corner, but no-one pretends to notice. It’s like the elephant in the living room thing they talk about in psychology where everyone knows that there is a problem and yet nobody talks about it.

‘Are we a dysfunctional family?’ I’m beginning to wonder. Maybe we are, just nobody talks about it and I certainly won’t be letting the cat out of the bag anytime soon!
(c) Eithne Reynolds


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