The day was cool and somber as we drove to Uxbridge, Ontario. Dark clouds hang in a pale blue sky; long stretches of grayish-black fields, littered with rounded golden bails of hay, scattered along each side of the road; trees stood colorless, motionless and naked, like some tired weary hitchhikers trying to catch a lift anywhere away from here. Occasionally, the monotony would be broken up by a vision of a birch tree looking strikingly white against the blue sky, gray fields and lifeless trees. Dark, naked and somber like my mood, Nature still had an ability to look beautiful. As I stared out of the car window, recent events were replaying themselves over and over in my mind.
Today was Sunday, November 28, 2o1o, 11am, and we were on our way to say good buy to two of our beloved family members who were about to be cremated in a private ceremony. We were about to send Snow, a 16.5 yrs old white male cat, and Kissa, a 17 yrs old female calico cat, on their final journey. Both of them were rescued by us within weeks from each other and enriched and brightened our lives for over 15 years. They were joined by a third rescue cat, Leo. The three of them bonded and became known as The Three Musketeers. They became important members of our family and a big part of our lives.
Leo, Snow and Kissa enjoyed a long, happy life and had uniquely different and interesting personalities. They taught us the importance of “just chilling”, looking at things upside down to get a different perspective on life, never taking “no” for an answer, never letting the closed door stop you from going where ever you wanted to go, and so much more. But the most important thing we learned from The Three Musketeers is how to love each other unconditionally.
We would love to keep our pets with us forever, but the old age eventually catches up with them and there comes a time when we need to let go. Over the past months we started noticing changes in our friends. After all 15+ for a cat is a Geriatric Age, equivalent to 85+ in human years. Although Leo remained a tough old bird, Snow and Kissa started to quickly fade away. Once a cat this old starts showing signs of aging, it seems to accelerate very quickly. Within a week their condition deteriorated. Snow was going quickly. Kissa seemed to be determined to keep taking care of him regardless of how she felt herself.
On Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 1:11pm, Snow has made a decision to cross over The Rainbow Bridge. Kissa, missing her life-long friend too much, decided to follow him 3 days later, and went quietly in her sleep at 4:11am Saturday, November 20th.
In the past we have always chosen to provide a private cremation for all our pets and rescue animals that shared and enriched our lives so much. We felt this was how we needed to honor them for bringing us so much joy. However, up until about a year ago we were not aware of any other cremation option than those available through veterinary clinics, ranging around $200-250 per pet. A little over a year ago we met an amazing couple, Nancy and Colin Graham of Thistledown Pet Memorial & Columbarium. They run a private Pet Cremation Services for just a little more than what is charged through Vet Clinics. The benefit of doing cremation through them is that you can actually see your pets being handled with respect and dignity, you can be there through the entire process and you can take as much or as little participation as you need in order to have closure.
The most significant difference is that when you leave, you feel at peace and the healing of grieving process begins almost immediately, in that moment. We dealt with Nancy and Colin last year when our beloved Minuette passed away and we were very pleased with the service. We have decided to once again come back to them with our precious Snow and Kissa.
Present financial situation presented some difficulties and having two pets pass away so close to each other was a little more than what our budget would allow. Some friends recommended setting up a ChipIn and posting it on Facebook and Craigslist. They said people sometimes liked to help out with costs by making donations. I felt a little uncomfortable with an idea of asking people for money. In 20+ years of running a private rescue, I have never once asked anyone for any financial help and funded it entirely from my own paychecks. However, present times are tough for all and sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. In my grief I decided to take my friend’s advice and set up a ChipIn account. I posted it first on Facebook. To my surprise I had 9 people make a donation within 3 days, $150 in total. I was speechless with gratitude.
Still starry-eyed I decided to post it on Craigslist. This was probably one of the worst mistake I have ever made. Within hours of my post going up, some vicious, slanderous counter-posts started popping up, accusing me of being a scammer, ridiculing my decisions in how we chose to say good buy to our life-long companions, spewing all sort of horrid accusations, and even going as far as flagging my post and getting it removed from Craigslist. In the moment of grief, devastation and vulnerability, when one would expect to see some compassion and understanding from his/her fellow humans beings, I instead encountered malice, discrimination and ill-will. I could not believe how eager people were to condemn someone without even as much as taking two minutes of their time to look at our ChipIn info, or visit Thistledown website, or even just email me for details or clarification. They acted strictly out of assumption and self-righteousness. Needless to say I will never ask for help or post anything on Craigslist again.
Still feeling raw from my experience I arrived today with my son to say our final good buy to Snow and Kissa. It is here, during this touching final ceremony, when my faith in human kindness was renewed. After hearing my story, the owners of Thistledown Pet Memorial not only decided to give us an almost $200 discount on their services, but they assured me that even though the cremation was performed today and I can take my lovely Snow and Kissa home with me, I should not worry about money. I can make payment arrangements with them at a later date. These peopled opened their doors for us on their day off. Kissa and Snow were the only two souls being sent off today and I can’t imagine having this happen in a more appropriate place. There is still some human kindness left in the world.
And so, with my hopes once again renewed, I now take this chance of opening myself up to my reader’s mercy. I ask that you please visit our ChipIn site, and if you feel in any way at all compelled to help us with Cremation costs than we would be eternally grateful. However, if all you choose to do is send us your love and good thoughts for Snow and Kissa, we will be grateful for that too.
With all our deepest love and respect,
Pawz For Thought Animal Rescue & Sanctuary
Please visit Thistledown Pet Memorial website for more info on their amazing services.