I picked up Klaus' remains on Monday afternoon.
I have only now been able to write about it. Until that moment I felt that Klaus could still pop up on the table, could still somehow still be around. Even though I know that wasn't possible, it was still possible. Now that he has been cremated it is absolutely not possible and that just makes me hurt all over.
I expected that day to be surreal, and I was not disappointed. A shopping bag awaited me with Klaus' name attached to the outside. I stood in the foyer of the funeral home holding my bag from the bottom and not the handles - it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. Of course I was afraid that the bag handles would break, sending the cardboard box of cremains (whatta word) crashing to the ground, not with a thud but with a whoosh that sent a tornado of Klaus everywhere. So I held it from the bottom, not taking any chances on any mischief from beyond.
Yes, they remembered to remove his nipple rings and return those to me. Yes, everything was handled perfectly and exactly as specified. I have all of my paperwork save the death certificate which was not ready yet. That's for another trip, I suppose. But yet as I stood there holding the box all I could think of to do (other than not drop it) was to rub the box as if to comfort him. I walked outside toward my car in the rain and covered the box so Klaus wouldn't get wet. I placed him on the passenger seat and buckled the seatbelt around the bag so it wouldn't fly around. Safety first!
And then I had things to do. On top of all that I am dealing with, I have to move. The house we live in is very large, and very far away from where I work. It feels very, very cold and quiet without Klaus. So I have been scouring Craigslist and visiting apartment buildings all over town, sometimes with Bogart (sunny days) sometimes without (hello snow). When I reached my first destination I had a dilemma - I did not want to keep Klaus on the front seat while I was inside for fear that someone might think he was something to steal, and as we already have one broken window on the Bogcedes I wasn't willing to risk it. So I put him in the trunk. I cannot tell you how much I agonized over that. It was either take him into the rental office with me or put him in the trunk. Both a little crazy. But as I really need to find a place to live, I felt that I just had to go with trunk rather than crazy-crying-lady-carrying-around-her-husband's-ashes. Especially as I look the latter part these days.
On the way home I retrieved Klaus from the trunk and put him back on his seat, buckled in. The ride home from there was uneventful in the sense that I was talking to him, just as I normally would if he were sitting there next to me. At one point I put my hand out to stroke his leg - something I would do all the time - and felt only cardboard. Damn. Damn. Damn.
My plan is to make a special box for him. He was too much of an individual to be put into something off-the-rack. But for now, the square, white box with his name printed on a plain, white label sits on my bedside table. Just next to the light-up alarm clock that always pissed him off because he said that the light was too bright, and that he would throw a knitted hat over after I had fallen asleep.
I love you Klaus. Sleep well.