by Kitty Boots

I don't have a dedicated place in my house for cremains. Our first goofy Golden Retriever, Hobbes, is on the second shelf of a little-used kitchen cabinet, tucked behind the Snackster, George Foreman Grill and quesadilla maker.

My mom is in the back of my bedroom closet, behind the shoe rack. The black plastic case is in a blue velvet drawstring bag. Hobbes's bag is burgundy. I had to separate them because I was afraid I'd get them mixed up.

Twice a year I drag out the contents of the closet to switch out seasonal clothes and shoes. Boots and sweaters for winter, sundresses and sandals for summer. And Mom. It always catches me by surprise, a little bit of fear and then guilt. I'd promised to scatter her ashes along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spring when the mountain laurel was in bloom and the flame azaleas exploded.

Then, after my heart calms down a little, I chuckle because the velvet bag reminds me of Crown Royal, a whiskey described as "approachable and unpretentious." Mom. Maybe this spring.