We buried our very old Jasper cat today, my son and I. He was a few months shy of nineteen years old (the cat, not the son). We were hoping he’d get one more summer. He spent so much of the last happily curled up in a chair on the deck in the sun.
The spot we chose to bury him sat between two small willow trees and my son dug the hole, found some big rocks to mark the grave. I wrapped Jasper in an old sweatshirt with a plush lining, hood over his face.
At some point my son said, “I’ve hit clay. That’s good.” And I wondered, was it? Was it good? Why? Because the clay made a better bed or because the clay indicated an end to digging? I wanted there to be an end. And Jasper didn’t need a very big hole. There wasn’t much left of the sleek black cat he had been.
Hard to believe it in light of the time he was gone for ten days in the dead of winter. No lie. He came home smelling like oil and I decided he must’ve gotten shut up in a garage but, really who knows what happened? It was one of his adventures.
Like the other time he was gone for three whole weeks one summer – no doubt off hunting or basking in some meadow while I called his name frantically every night. I was sure he was gone for good. Three weeks is a long time for a cat to be gone.
But then he came sauntering home, over the stone wall like always, a little leaner maybe, but otherwise in prime shape. Other adventures did not end well like the time he came home without part of his tongue. No clue what happened but he was fortunate he didn’t lose more otherwise he might not have been able to eat properly. Or that awful New Years eve. I was supposed to go out to a party when something horrific happened on the deck. And Jasper was out.
Outside I found blood and tracks that were too big to be a cat. I searched in the dark and the snow, but I did not find Jasper. And I did not go to the party.
I forget when he came home, hours later or maybe even the next morning, but once again, he’d survived another adventure - unscathed.
He probably had all kinds of adventures I knew nothing of, nights beneath the stars, running, chasing, climbing, all the things cats do out in the wild.
He was a lucky cat, I think as my son shovels dirt into the grave.
I’ll tell you one more thing, about another black cat I had named Jader. After he died (too young, I might add) I had three dreams about him. In the first dream he was alive and well and it was good. In the second dream he was sick or badly injured. And in the final dream he was dead, but his ghost remained to comfort me briefly, telling me it was okay, he was fine.