I ran into Jane yesterday at the clinic. She could barely hold back the tears. It had been 24 hours since Whiskers had been put to sleep by the veterinarian. Rex had feline leukemia, and faced an unpleasant decline, so Jane agreed to have him put down. Jane swore that Whiskers would have a burial fit for the important role he had played in her life. Jane is single, and has never had children. Now in her mid-30′s, she devoted herself to Whiskers after her father died in 2007.
Some people thought Jane was a bit eccentric for putting such devotion into her pet cat. He was, after all, a cat. But Whiskers was always a special creature – he loved to be handled and gratefully accepted hand-feeding. He never bit or clawed at Jane, something her former boyfriend wished he could claim. Whiskers was also protective of Jane, and on several occasions he could be spotted biting the leg of Jane’s boyfriend during the couples many arguments.
Jane had gone through a pint of vodka the previous day, but nothing could stop the pain of loss. She said it took all the willpower she could muster to not call her coke connection, but she knew she had to function until the burial was over later that day. Once Whiskers was in the ground, she could relax and shoot up before hitting the streets once more. Big Mike let her take a one-day holiday from turning tricks as an escort, but he would be real angry if she didn’t start bringing in money today.
Apparently, everything was set. The pastor from the halfway house agreed to oversee the ceremony, and a client, Bobby, who worked at the pet cemetery, offered to do the service for free, complete with recorded music and leftover flowers. She was grateful for Bobby’s kindness, and vowed to charge him half price when they again got busy together.
She travelled to the pet cemetery toting Whiskers in a shoebox. It was still hard to accept he was gone, but she said she knew she needed be brave or she’d collapse under the weight of the ordeal. Bobby started the CD recording of suitably solemn music. The pastor stammered through a few words, then Bobby quickly dug a shallow grave just one and half feet long and carefully placed the shoebox, top removed, in it along with seasonal christmas flowers to help surpress the smell. He let Jane shovel the tiny amount of dirt back into the grave, and suddenly Whiskers was gone. Jane couldn’t afford a monument, so she made one of her own from Emory boards, and now placed it at the front of Whiskers’ grave. Jane had scrawled an epitaph: “Whiskers, I wish it had been me instead.”