They handed me Chester's ashes in a small cardboard box. I waited at the counter facing the same room where he died. It looked completely different and I wondered if they had redecorated or if I had hallucinated the entire thing. So many times I had stood at this same counter, talking with an old character actor who adored Chester, keeping him up on his progress, promising to email him with updates. Now I stood, waiting for his ashes.
The tech came out with a cardboard box with my name on it. As I walked to the car I noticed it said in ball-point, "Spoke to client."
It had Chester's name on it. I put it on the front seat next to me. Now, I knew that wasn't him. He was gone the minute he died. But still. I thought I could handle this and it was all different. I took a green shawl I kept in the car and wrapped the box in it. It didn't seem right to just leave the box there like that. Then I started to cry.
And I realized someone was waiting for my parking space.
I've said many times I'm so incredibly lucky to have the friends that I do and this has shown me that I truly have the great gift of them from all over the world - I had three within a mile of the vet and I ended up crying on one's kitchen floor for what seemed like far too long.
I lost my best friend, my protector, my bodyguard, my reason for so many things. He inspired me, he taught me patience and forgiveness, he showed me hope, he brought me joy. "Happiness and joy are your middle name," I used to say to him. For despite the abuse he suffered, he never carried it with him. He was filled with hope, humor, love, and boundless enthusiasm. I was so lucky to have this in my life for thirteen years. When I would leave for work I'd say, "I have to go so I can bring you home bacon." Now I leave for work alone.