How to Keep a Dead Cat In Your Freezer

Four white lies about death.

Jessica Wildfire


Photo by nrd on Unsplash

There’s a dead cat in my freezer. Actually, I should say there was a dead cat in my freezer —aspirational past tense. I’m trying to be optimistic. By the time you read this, I’m hoping there won’t be.

Maybe it’s a good thing…

His name was Bradley, a stray our neighbor adopted. I remember meeting him a few years ago when we moved in. He walked right into the empty house and introduced himself. We became friends. Most afternoons, he took naps in a flower pot in our driveway. We’re keeping him in the freezer now because our neighbor’s power was knocked out by a storm, and she doesn’t know where to bury him yet. It’s the least we can do.

Our three-year-old daughter has never known a day without Bradley. When she heard about the accident, she asked, “Is he going to get better?” Then she started crying. Now she won’t go to sleep.

She hugs me and says, “I’m scared.”

We all think we’re ready for death. We think it’s enough to read a book about it, or keep a collection of pithy quotes.

We’re not. Most of us can’t even get to bed on time.

How are we ready for death?

Lie #1. The pepper is over there.

There’s this idea called “Being toward death.” It would make me sound smarter to say I learned about it from a book, but that’s not true. A guy explained it to me at a bar, with salt and pepper.

I like his version better.

The guy placed a salt shaker on one end of the table. “That’s you,” he said. He placed a pepper shaker at the other end.

“That’s death.”

We tend to assume death is all the way over at the end of the table. We think we’ll enjoy a few years of retirement first. Anything that interrupts the straight line from salt to pepper is a tragedy.

The guy slid the pepper right up next to the salt.

That’s the reality of death. It’s not far away. It’s up close. It’s so close you can’t even see it. That’s the real tragedy, our misunderstanding.