Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy. This past week, I had the unfortunate and difficult task of laying one of our feline family members to rest. It can be really difficult to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, but making something special to honor the departed can help us to find some closure. We saw this recently with Jen's Fly Fishing Memorial Mobile project.

This is Cleo:

Cleo was 17 years old and had an array of health issues, including diabetes and thyroid problems. Her previous owner had three small and rather noisy dogs in the house, so Cleo had taken to staying on the washer and dryer at all times, out of reach of the dogs. Feeling that she no longer had a good quality of life, the previous owner came to the decision to put Cleo down. But my wife and son and I discussed it and thought we could give her some more time in a peaceful and loving environment. So we adopted her.

It didn't take long for Cleo to become comfortable in her new home…

Cleo the cat lounging comfortably on the back of a chair.

We had a wonderful couple of months with her, but then she started having bladder control issues. After she had accidents on our bed on three separate occasions, we had no choice but to confine her to our master bathroom. We were sure to pay attention to her throughout the day, but she was miserable in there. She would cry at the door until she lost her voice. After about a week of this, we decided it just wasn't fair to her. We came to the very difficult decision that it was time to say goodbye to Cleo.

We made an appointment with our vet for Saturday morning at 9:30am. We have a beautiful spot on a hilltop in the country where we have buried our departed pets for decades, and we planned to lay her to rest there.

Friday evening, the night before, I found myself having a difficult time coming to terms with the situation. Were we doing the right thing? Were there any other options we were overlooking? I couldn't come up with any, and I felt so helpless.

I started to think about the next day and Cleo being laid to rest, and I realized that we needed something to put her in for the burial. It occurred to me that I could make something special for her. At least I could do that much.

So, I went to and generated a box of appropriate dimensions. I selected several of my finest pieces of birch plywood. I selected a nice floral pattern and created a simple design in Adobe Illustrator. I then cut and engraved all of the pieces…

Laser etching a memorial box

I glued all of the joints (except for the lid) and clamped it together…

A laser etched box to lay a beloved pet in.
A laser etched box to lay Cleo to rest in.

We only had Cleo with us for a couple of months, so I was surprised by how difficult it was to say goodbye to her. Making this box for her didn't make that pain go away, but it did help me to process all of the emotions and find a sense of peace amidst a most difficult situation.

Goodbye, Cleo. You will be missed!

Cleo the cat, looking majestic on the bed.

So often, we talk about digital fabrication in the context of business or education. No doubt, there is great value in using these technologies in those areas. But it can be so much more than that. These technologies have given me the ability to make things I never would have been able to make otherwise with my current skill-set. And in this case, it helped me to deal with a very difficult situation and come out of it feeling a sense of closure.

As I sit here typing this, I see one of our other cats sitting happily by an open window, watching the birds outside. I think my next project will be to 3D print a custom cat bed to hang off the windowsill.

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