That contain the remains of my animals sit on the shelf, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, never moved or touched until the next jar comes to join them.
A life without one, two, or more of the furry, feathery, leathery or otherwise bedecked, creatures would be a life with something missing. A dog teaches about pack, a cat teaches about confidence, a bird teaches about freedom, a horse teaches about respect, a snake teaches about truth (after all, they are not slimy, don’t attack without cause, and You scare the bleep out of ’em).
And the biggest lesson of all: life ends. We mourn, wallow for a while for what we’ve lost. But to learn the lesson well, we have another thing to learn: to remember how they shared our life, how that being enhanced our moments, brought joy (and other emotions) and warmth and connection – love and pack.
The little jars are there because we have been gypsies, moved from place to place, state to state, posting to posting. They come with us, the living and the remembered, because I can’t bear to leave them to the care of someone else. I hold onto them as if they were still in my care and will remain in my care until I take the long-sleep. My will provides for the jars to be sent with me into the flames of renewal. I don’t want to leave them alone, and I don’t want to be without them.
Is this an emotional crux? Do I need to put them in the ground, let them pass on? No. They are already dead, and it’s only me who wants to keep the memory close by. Yes, I remember them, hear the noises they made when they moved in reality through my life, I speak to them (and use them as examples when speaking to the living representatives) and I love them. Always.
It was a lesson to the kids I fostered. Pack is life. Pack is forever. Pack is commitment and continuance. For a dog without pack, life is dangerous and short, and even the lowest ranking pack member expects to be cared for during his life, and mourned when he dies. I do this, I demonstrated this.
There are rules, pack rules, boundary rules, society rules, hunting rules. Everywhere there are rules, but pack is the most important rule of all. No pack means no connection, no love, and no purpose.
Animals teach us many things, and we are still learning – the world is not the same today as it was yesterday. The pack helps us deal with this, and move on, together, in the manner that best befits our purpose.
Thank you for listening to my ramble. I love my pack, in all its forms.