I dug a hole.
I dug a hole to bury the cat.
I dug a hole to bury the cat that I didn't want in the first place. The cat that the Not-So-Little-One rescued from certain death to bobcats at my sister's ranch. The cat that bullied my other cats and destroyed my sofa and ate weird stuff - the exact weird stuff that ended his life.
I waged war against the rocky North Texas clay, armed with a long-handled shovel and an indomitable will. The ground was hard, but it was no match for my head. The shovel handle landed a blow to that head, and it left a bruise, but it did not win, either.
I dug a hole. It was barely wide enough and probably not as deep as it should have been.
But... I dug a hole. I dug a hole because a dead cat has to go somewhere, and it made more sense to send it's body back to Mother Earth than to throw it in the nearest culvert or in a dumpster. I dug a hole because I love my daughter. I dug a hole because it is what you do.
I dug the hole and I sweated and I cursed. I allowed myself the luxury of feeling angry over all of the losses in my life. I felt the emptiness in the holes those losses left behind. I lowered the walls and let the memories flood in, and I savored every bit of it, knowing that when the task was finished I would shut them out once again.
I said goodbye. To the cat. To my mother. To my lost babies. To my innocence. To my youth. To those I loved and to those that never loved me.
I filled up the hole. With every shovel load of dirt that I dropped unceremoniously into the hole, I felt the walls go back up. But I also felt some of the emptiness subside. I reminded myself that some of the love I lost has indeed been replaced. And I took pride in the fact that I was able to do this thing all by myself.
I filled up the hole and I tamped the soil down and I placed a rock the size of my head (one that I extracted from the ground with my bare hands) on the grave.
I sat next to the site and thanked God for strength and humbly asked if He would be so kind as to keep my bum shoulder from punishing me too much the next day.
He spared the shoulder. But the bruise on my head remains a reminder that these things are just what you do.