On my drive back from Kanab to Las Vegas, I make one last stop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to drop off the water bowl and blanket which came with Monique on her sleepover and which I'd forgotten to return the day before. There aren't a lot of people at Dogtown's main building but the ones who are there look busy so I just leave the stuff behind on a counter, say "see you" to a recognizable face and walk out.
I drive around the road which rings BFAS for one last look and stop at Angel's Rest, the pet cemetery.
Generally, if someone had just described Angel's Rest to me, with its wind chimes and cutesy animal art, I would have relegated its sentiments to the same shelf which holds ceramic nursery rhyme figurines and pictures of puppies and kittens painted on dishes. I would have put it in the same league as diamond tiaras and pink tutus on teacup poodles.
But then I can be an idiot sometime.
I take a walk around the graves and and I quickly understand that there are no shallow sentiments here. And there is nothing in these grave sites that speak to filial responsibility or respect for the dead or religious tradition because people don't bury and memorialize their pets for any other reason than love.
There are hundreds of graves. Some are indicated by a strip of bent aluminum with the pet's name on it. Some have a photo, many faded, of the pet. Some are marked by carved stone memorials with some words of emotion and wishes for reunion one day. The majority of the graves are covered with one or more polished gems and stones left behind by people as acknowledgment of pets lost but remembered.
These pets have given abundant joy to their owners. This place then is a celebration of that joy and a mourning for the passing of that joy. It is the heaviness of ashes and bone but it is also the freedom of mountains and sky. It is a memory of that joy. It is the breeze that moves the chimes but it is the memory that makes them sing.
So, I listen to the chimes and then I leave.