By Diane Ako
I drove around with a dead dog in my car for weeks. That's not as gross as it sounds. The dog was cremated, and in a box.
Six years ago, I put down my beloved Kona, a wonderful yellow Lab who brought me 13 years of joy. She was the best.
I mourned her for a long time. I still tear up if I really stop and think about her.
Olivia was a year and a half old when Kona died, but she actually still remembers her. I like that.
After she died in 2009, I intended to bury her one day, but was too hurt to do more than put the ashes in the living room and glance up at the box once in a while. After a year, I brought the box down from the shelf, but it still hurt to actually hold it and think about parting with her.
I decided to let it go and when the time was right, it would come to me.
Years went by and my life has taken some ups and downs; the normal progression of any life, I suppose. My husband and I are mired in parenting, work, elder caregiving, and just life in general. I eventually forgot about Kona.
Last fall, in what was the hardest year of my life, I noticed the box of ashes again, and decided it was time to bury the past - literally and figuratively. My plan was to take Kona to her favorite haunts before putting her in the ground in my yard.
Of course, time moves both quickly and slowly when you're at this stage of life - working full time and raising a young child. I feel like I'm constantly tired, always busy, and often forgetting.
I took Kona off the shelf and put the ashes by the front door, to remind myself to schedule time to execute my final plan of action for her. Fall became winter became spring, and only recently have I gotten to acting on it.
One Saturday, Olivia and I made time to drive Kona to my friend Jen's house. Jen and her three dogs were a big part of Kona's life. For years, the six of us would spend our days off together. Two of Jen's dogs died last year, too. Jen and I reminisced and cried.
The next day, we took Kona to the beach. Kailua Beach was her favorite, and it was also where she served as flower dog in my wedding. My daughter and I walked for a while along the shore with Kona's ashes.
Back at home, we decided to bury her in the front yard, her favorite place to hang out because she could see all the action on the street. Claus dug a small hole and Olivia poured the ashes into the ground.
It wasn't heart wrenching because I was finally ready. It's a little scary how strongly humans form attachments, that it took me half a dozen years to be ready to bury a dog.
We told her we loved her and that she would always be with us. That was that.
Until we all meet again at the rainbow bridge.