Five Years

by Stu Pierce

My cat died back in 2005. We had him for twenty years. He had been a constant companion in my life, and we had been through a lot together. He’d seen me through the good times and the not so good times.

When he died eight years ago, it hit me unexpectedly hard. So, I did what any normal, grieving person would do in a similar situation. I froze him. Well, I’m not sure everyone would do that, but that’s the route I took.

I froze him, but before I did, I put him in an airtight, vacuum-sealed bag–actually five of them. I’d put him in a bag and seal it and then repeat the process. And inside each consecutive bag, I put those little packets designed to absorb moisture–the kind you find in bags of food. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Anything that would keep moisture out was considered to be a good thing.

I couldn’t find a place to buy those moisture packets wholesale, so I decided the most cost-effective way to obtain them was from bags of beef jerky. I considered many other options as I walked up and down the food aisles at Walmart, but after I did a cost-benefit analysis, beef jerky seemed like the most economical option.

I must’ve bought sixty to seventy dollars of beef jerky just to get what I thought was enough moisture packets. After all these vacuum-sealed bags were tightly layered on top of my recently departed loved one, it quickly became clear to me that there were a couple clear-cut problems with this whole situation. None of which were the very obvious psychological issues inherent in my behavior. One of the problems I saw was that if I did put my cat in the freezer as it was, then if (on the rare occasion) I had guests over, I had to either keep them out of my freezer (which could give rise to any number of awkward moments) or I would live in constant fear of them helping themselves to some ice. I couldn’t have that either.

No. Some added measure had to be taken to prevent it from being so clearly visible should any prying eyes find their way into my freezer.

Solution–a plastic box I had seen at Walmart. It was blue and not at all see through. It also seemed like the perfect size to house my long-term companion, but not too big either. So, I transferred my kitty yet again (only taking him out of the freezer in brief spurts). I got him into his box (his “casket,” if you will).

I considered sealing the box in an airtight bag as well, but its sheer size precluded it. Enter another solution–two rolls of Saran Wrap. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped–after it was all said and done, it probably added two inches to the container’s actual size.

After doing all this–going to such great lengths–it became clear that this thing would never fit into the modest freezer I had gotten through campus housing.

So, I did the only thing I could think of late on a Tuesday night–I bought a deep freeze. It seemed only logical. Well, a mini deep freeze, but still.

I drove to Walmart at 2:00 a.m. and spent hundreds of dollars “honoring” the memory of a cat that was, by all accounts, senile for the last six years of his life.

Getting it out to my car was difficult, but actually getting the deep freeze in the trunk of my 1992 Ford Tempo proved to be impossible. It just wouldn’t fit. It was simple physics. It was weird too because I thought my measurements were spot on. I did get an A in high school geometry, you know.

So, here I am, standing in the Walmart parking lot at an ungodly hour with a deep freeze that I just had dropped a sizable chunk of money on that I couldn’t fit into my trunk, and on top of that, I had a frozen cat at home depending on me. This, ladies and gentleman, is a crazy man’s dilemma.

Then this random guy passed by in the parking lot and took pity on me. He got a rope out of the bed of his truck and helped me get it wedged as far as it would go into the trunk of my car and then fastened it down with the rope. The whole time it felt like we were doing something illegal. It had all the makings of a Sopranos episode.

We both agreed that if I went slow and avoided major potholes, I should probably be fine.
So, I drove home–exhausted–and proceeded to take this behemoth into my apartment. And as I caught a glimpse of my own reflection in a moonlit puddle of water I couldn’t help but be reminded of some deranged sociopath I had learned about on some news program. Names like Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy, all flashed through my mind. Was I headed down that same path?

I eventually lugged my freezer into my apartment and got it all unpacked and running. I justified the purchase to my friends as an impulse buy, nothing more. “I just had to have it,” I told them. They never questioned it. It seemed believable to them.

They would come into my apartment from time to time–little did they know what was just a few feet away. I found myself forgetting about it as well. It just became ordinary to me.

I kept my friend frozen in there for five years. Perfectly preserved and pristine. The way everything we love should be. But that isn’t always the case–not in the real world. Love is a vulnerable and tenuous thing.

I now see the insanity of my behavior, but love can make us do crazy things. It can sometimes even make us act irrationally…and that’s OK. Everyone is entitled to a little irrational behavior when it comes to the things we love–I just happen to draw the line at freezing a cat.

 


Stu Pierce is a counseling graduate student from Arkansas. When he’s not reading you can find him at the local coffeehouse, caffeinating himself into a philosophical stupor.


 

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