Lillian lived next door to me at Sunset Apartments. She was the classic Crazy Cat Lady. She kept cats-definitely plural. Over her eighty-year lifespan, she’d had a lot of cats. When one died, she’d collect the ashes from the SPCA. Fourteen little ash jars lined her mantelpiece, interspersed with crystal figurines, stained glass pictures, and anything else sparkly she could find. She loved shiny things best in the world. After her cats, that is.
When she knew she was dying, Lil left instructions with me. “Mix my ashes with my pussies,” she said. I was pretty much the only one who paid attention to her, so I was the one who got the instructions. She had no kids, only a couple of cousins out east somewhere.
So when she died, after a small, brief funeral, I had her cremated. I went down to Chinatown to find the biggest, shiniest urn I could. Mixed them all in together. Lil would’ve been upset if one of her cats got more attention than another, even posthumously.
The only problem was, she never said where she wanted to be scattered, and the urn was too big for my mantelpiece. It would have seemed disrespectful to split them up, or put them in the closet. They looked silly beside the couch, and they really were a bit creepy.
So it was providential when I saw the ad. For fifteen thousand dollars, they’d make dead bodies into diamonds. Lil’d left me her savings, along with her Swarovsky crystal animal collection. The money just about covered it.
I called to find out more. The man on the phone said they would do it with ashes as easily as with corpses. Carbon is carbon.
So I duct-taped the lid onto the urn and shipped them down to some place in Georgia.
I had them set in a gold ring. I think Lil would be pleased that she and her cats came back as something shiny.