I picked up Winger’s ashes yesterday. I was anxious for them to return. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I don’t really like the idea of cremation. Knowing what to do with Winger’s body after he died gave me hours of debate over the last couple of years. I choose private cremation at the last minute, mostly due to eliminating all the other choices.

I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of ashes coming in little see-through baggies, and also nice handcrafted oak urns. I wasn’t asked what I wanted.

Yesterday the call finally came that Winger’s ashes were ready to be picked up. At the same time I was opening my mail. My mom’s cousin Kathy sent me a beautiful Golden Retriever angel pin – it’s a Golden with angel wings. And I received another sympathy card, this time from my Uncle Phil and Aunt Doreen. So of course I was a mess of tears. I cleaned myself up to pick them up. I had to wait at the vet’s because the office was busy. I don’t like it there anymore. I was anxious and nervous and trying so hard not to cry until I got out of there. Finally I was first up at the desk and the receptionist handed me a big cardboard box. I was tearing up so I thanked here and bolted out the door. I just set it in the back seat and cried my way home.

At home, I opened the box. It was full of paper shavings. There was a black box in the middle in a plastic bag. There was also a piece of paper expressing sympathy and certifying that the cremation was humane (whatever the hell that means). I took off the plastic bag. Winger’s ashes are inside a plastic box. It wasn’t sealed very well and before too long I realized I had some ashes on my hands. I got really upset. I put it back in the plastic bag, sealed it up, and buried it back in the paper shavings.

I didn’t know what I’d think of getting his ashes returned. I supposed I hoped it would be comforting that his remains were back with me. But that is not how I felt at all. I din’t feel any sort of connection to them. I immediately felt that I didn’t want them in my house. Then I went through the typical grief thoughts of what did I do – I killed my dog, then I burnt him up, and now he’s in this box. Really, I was a mess for a good hour or so.

I didn’t have any long term plans of what I wanted to do with his ashes. I know many people keep them forever, some hidden away, some publicly displayed. This box isn’t totally sealed and it isn’t pretty. For $460 why didn’t they give me a nice oak urn too? I don’t know, but I know I don’t want to keep them. I thought about keeping them long enough to wait until Surf was also cremated so I could do something with them together, but I can’t wait. It feels incredibly wrong in my heart to keep his remains in that plastic box, sealed in a plastic bag. Unless I have a drastic change of heart in the next day or so, I plan to spread the ashes out at the retriever club property – allowing Winger’s remains to go back to becoming a part of nature. It’s going to disturb me greatly to open that box and see the ashes, but right now I feel it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know what I’ll do next time. That was an awful lot of money. Maybe when Surf is old and sick I’ll ready a hole for her burial ahead of time, as I knew I wouldn’t be physically up for it after Winger died. Or maybe the group cremation where the ashes are spread over a field at the crematorium is sufficient enough. I don’t know. And I don’t like thinking about it…