Yesterday's tree trim...
Chris runs out to get the tree and I run out to do a few errands before I start to feel too pooped out from The Cold That Will Not Let Go.
Upon my return to the house I find that Chris already has the tree set up, watered and is in the process of putting on the lights. It's a really good looking tree. Smells wonderful.
A short time later while I'm bustling around the kitchen, Chris wanders over to the kitchen table and lifts up a maroon gift bag that I hadn't noticed sitting among the clutter of the table. He says slowly and gently, "While I was out getting the tree, I brought Annabel home."
I think that I may utter a little, "Oh."
I look inside the bag to see a smooth wooden box.
The box containing Annabel's ashes.
Immediately I burst into tears.
Chris is crying, too.
We cry together for a while and then take the box out of the bag. In the bag is also a card from "Final Gift" - the company that performed the cremation. The card contains a nice poem inside and a certificate stating that the ashes in the box are certified to be Annabel's.
We cry again for a few minutes. Chris holds me while I babble about not being able to bring myself to pick up Annabel's ashes for the last few weeks. He soothes me and says, "I know. I broke down in my car in the parking lot after I got her ashes."
After a while there isn't much else to say so I return to some half-hearted bustling around the kitchen. Chris disappears into the basement and returns with a package for me.
Every year on tree trim day Chris and I give each other a new ornament.
I've been so sick over the last week that I never got Chris his ornament and as I stand there looking at the package, I feel terrible.
"I didn't get you an ornament yet," I say to Chris. "I feel terrible. I suck as a wife."
"It's OK, " Chris replies, "you've still got two weeks left til Christmas."
Chris had been in New York this last week at a seminar and so I assume as I open this year's ornament that he has gotten me some art ornament from the Met.
He got me Annabel.
There she is - in her bowl - looking cheerful on both sides of a porcelain ornament.
Immediately I burst into tears again.
So does Chris.
We hold each other for a while and then I finally break away to ask, "Where did you get this?"
"I found a company on-line that does them. I think the colors are a little washed out."
"No. It's perfect."
And so there she is now looking out from the top front of our lovely Christmas tree.
It was a really lovely and wonderful tree trim yesterday. Chris describes it perfectly in this post.
But it was a little strange, too. No Annabel sitting on the couch diving into the tissue papers we throw there as we unwrap the ornaments. No "mrow!" and purr this year.
Oh sure - Forest "supervised" the whole tree trim from the chair next to the tree. Well, actually she mostly snoozed through tree trim occasionally waking to stretch and receive a good scratch or two from Chris or me.
Cecil, of course, would venture into the living room from time to time only to run away in utter terror at all of the strange activity going on...the music, the rustling of the tissue paper, the tall strange green thing in the middle of her living room. It was just too much for her delicate sensibilities.
No, Annabel was really the only one of our three cats who truly appreciated and got into the spirit of tree trim.
So now she'll supervise and enjoy from her spot on the tree.
I know that next year I'll probably burst into tears again when Annabel's ornament comes out of its package, but I know that I'll be happy to have her be part of Christmas again and show her to Schmoopie.
Welcome home Annabel.