There is a tool that exists that is perfect for digging a deep hole deep into North Carolina clay. It is a steel-cast heavy pick that you can lift up and use gravity to do some of the work for you. It has a blunt-sharp end and it’s taller than you unless you’re Shaq.
Me and my buddy walked into a Home Depot in Concord, N.C., looking for such an implement Monday morning. We needed it to dig a grave for a cat.
Yes, I happened to show up the weekend his boy Scratchy decided to exhibit his swan song.
You see a cat who is doing his best not to be seen in broad daylight, and you see a cat who is ailing and ready to go. Sunday afternoon, he was sprawled out in the neighbors’ yard, convinced that nobody could see him.
By Sunday night, he was cooped up in his own litter box, which is where they found him ten minutes before he gave up the ghost. Which led my friend to have to make a seemingly immediate decision while he was in the first moments of grief, what to do with the shell now that his little monkey had left it. I’ll never forget the impossibly silent forever while he sat with his friend wrapped up in a towel, both shrieking inside and trying to lay plans.
His wife and I steered him from floodlights and trying to dig right that moment. He will keep, and you need to say goodbye in daylight, that’s all I could think while I sat on that couch across from them. He and I later toasted his boy, a fascinating feline in his prime, truly tolerant and beautiful and funny and love.
But when they pulled him out from his box and set him on the ground, it was pretty clear he was in his last minutes. This old boy looked like a newborn kitten, his eyes big and wide and unsure of his step. He was shortly wrapped in a towel and brought upstairs, only to say goodbye.
I was rooting that night for cremation, an easier solution, but my buddy kept saying he’s always seen burial at his home.
I was wrong. Not that I had a right to harbor an opinon, which is why I only whispered it that night. It was up to him, and he was right. I dug a little, but he dug mostly, and it took hours and hours and a trip to Home Depot and hours more.
But my friend will always know he took the trouble to commit his little man to the earth. That he made an effort. That he fought for something, even if the fight was only against the cement-hard clay of the planet. That he did something for Scratchy.
God bless Scratchy. Meow.