On my way home from school this afternoon, I pulled around a corner and was met with a horrific scene of a house cat instantly killed by a van. There was quite a lot of blood, and the driver of the van was standing on the road, clearly traumatized.
I was about six blocks from home, so I raced home, grabbed rubber gloves, a sheet, a garbage bag and a plastic box and zoomed back to the scene. All I could think of was the scads of kids in this heavily residential area soon being dismissed from school and seeing the outcome of this accident.
By the time I got back, two neighbourhood men were scooping up the cat with a spade, and depositing him in a garbage bag. I asked if they knew who's cat it was, and they pointed across the street to a woman standing on the sidewalk (also, very upset, weeping hysterically). The man asked for my box, and put the bagged cat in it, and carried it over to her.
I asked her if I could help her bury the cat, and she was so grateful for the offer. She told me she felt completely helpless, and didn't know what to do, and was thinking about her three kids who would soon be coming home from school.
So we chose a place in the back yard together, near the fence in a back corner, so she could plant something over top of poor Gizmo. We each took up a spade and began to dig. When the hole was deep enough, I told her I was going to prepare the cat but I didn't want her to look, and she agreed. I told her I thought it was important that he be taken out of the garbage bag, because he certainly was not garbage, and she appreciated the gesture.
So she stood by the hole, while I talked to Gizmo, and carefully shrouded him in a clean sheet. While I was wrapping him up, I spoke to the cat, "This was an accident Gizmo. You just wanted to explore the big world out there, and were happiest when you were outside. No one is to blame here." Another cat came over to watch me, and I petted him, and said aloud to the cat, "You can say goodbye to your friend."
I carried the swaddled cat over to the hole, and gently put him in his grave. We quietly buried him, and when it was over I gave the cat owner a hug and talked to her for a few minutes about the sadness of her loss.