I remember the box like it was yesterday, but it was around fifty years ago. It was a white box with red printing. It was a cookie box, the kind that holds about ten of the regular sized cookie packages. It was a shipping box, but I didn’t know it way back then. That day the cookie box would be an affordable casket for our pet cat Casper.
The main road north of our house, about four houses north, was a thoroughfare that connected our little town to the town next door. It was what locals would call the “back way”, like the short cuts that exist in all small towns where you have to be counted in the small population number to know about.
We traveled that road to see my parent’s friends, to pick cherries, do over a hundred miles an hour in an old used Dodge that my dad was test driving, and visit the hospital where my grandma did stints in not too long before she passed.
I was forbidden to ride my bicycle on that road because it was dangerous. There were too many V-8 powered cars and not enough folks with the willpower to not use the muscle.
I never did tell my parents me and our neighbor Glen took our bikes on that road one afternoon after school to Sylvan Park till after I’d grown up.
I’m not sure who found Casper, the long haired pure white cat with perrywinkle blue eyes. The Tom cat that was stone deaf. My mom loved that cat, and almost all animals for that matter.
I’m not sure if I was in kindergarten or first grade, but it was the only day I remember being held out of school when I wasn’t sick. My mom wanted me to help her bury our pet.
We drove as far north off that deadly street as we could till we came to a wire fence. It was at the base of what the locals called “The Bench”, a small mountain with a flat top, hence the name.
We got the duct taped cookie box casket out of the trunk along with my oldest brother’s folding Army shovel and I began to dig. I remember my tears turning the dusting soil to mud in spots as I dug. I can’t remember now if I was crying more for our cat or from seeing my mom cry. Maybe a little of both.
Talking with friends last night about pets and the pain of losing them reminded me about that time my mom and I buried Casper in that cookie box.
I know God can use anything to prepare us for what lies in our future. I think He uses the loss of animals to prepare us for the passing of loved ones. It’s not the same, nothing can equal the pain of losing a loved one, but it does give us a taste of the process.
Everyone learns early on that this life isn’t perfect. There is pain and there is sorrow. In those times I remember. It’ll be ten years come May since my dad passed. I tear up just typing these words… but I know one day I too will follow in his footsteps. God has allowed things to happen in our lives to prepare us.
It doesn’t matter if I’m buried in a pine box or a cookie box. I’ll be perfect. My dad will shake his head when I remind him of that test drive in that old Dodge… with me and my brother in the back… where there was supposed to be a seat…