Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where One Is Lost, One is Found

For several months now, we've been visited by a stray cat.

Only she's not that much of a stray, her name is Cleo and she is the cat of our neighbor, John Johnson. Only, John drank himself to death last summer. Our only glimpse of our oft-gossiped about next door neighbor was one night in late May, 2006. A decrepit old man shuffled out of the house next to us, cursing and shouting incoherently.

He had a live-in caretaker for the last year of his life, and a nastier, less smiling woman you have never met.

Cleo used to come over and fight with Finny. Or Finny would get in her yard and Cleo would fight with him there. They did not appear to like each other.

When Finny went missing, I spoke to the man who lives behind our neighbor, to ask if he'd seen him. He said, "Sure, he and that little black and white cat are always palling around, playing in my yard. I feed the little black and white one, because she looks so hungry!"

In my grief and desperation, I never told this guy that John Johnson had died a year before. I consoled myself with thinking that he was taking care of Cleo, and forgave myself for only going back there one time, trying to tell him that Cleo needed a new family, but he wasn't home and my busy life got the best of me.

We thought Cleo had found a home, we never saw her.
Then about two months ago, Cleo came calling. She was hungry, her collar was now gone, and we put bowls of food out for her to keep her fed.

The Pope fell in love. Everytime she came around, he would go out onto the porch and sit for an hour, petting and loving her. I made sure the bowl was full, but Lucy goes apeshit at the sight of Cleo, so I kept my heart in check.

I cannot love you, I would say to her on those off nights when the Pope wasn't there and she came by anyway. I cannot love you, Lucy won't let me, and anyway, I am keeping Finny's room in my heart just the way he left it, so that when he comes back it will be ready for him.

But it is getting colder. And Cleo started coming around every day, every night, not wanting food as much as she was wanting love. She was wanting affection. She was wanting to be a pet again, instead of the wary, feral life that was thrust upon her.

And it is getting colder out here.
So we put a Lost and Found Ad on Craigslist.
Then we put an ad in Pets.
Then the Pope rewrote the Pets ad to be creative and awesome like he can do, and a lady responded the first day.

She and her husband and their kids live in an apartment in Kent, WA (nearby-ish).
Her 4 year old had fallen in love with a cat that looked just like Cleo, but that cat was a stray and had disappeared. Probably adopted, she thought.

Probably.....not, I thought.

We vetted them as best we could and they came and took Cleo on Tuesday night.
It absolutely broke my heart to see this cat leave.
I mean, I can't care for her!
We're leaving!
Lucy's a bitch!
All those things, you know!

But I also know that I can heal a damaged, frightened cat.
I can make her whole again, I can make her a pet.
Those of you who know me, you know this is true.

The lady called the very next day, Cleo didn't do too well, she was hissing and scared, and with two kids in an apartment, she couldn't deal with that.

(Don't be harsh in your thoughts, she was a very nice, young woman, she meant well.)

But Cleo is a commitment. She has seen some hard things, she's had to fend for herself, she's been placed in the most unfair and worst possible scenario for a loving, little animal.

And here I'm hoping and praying that my Finny returns, and/or that God keeps him safe, and happy, and loved dearly through the whole of his life. And right here this little girl needs me, needs the Pope, and needs someone to reach out and say, Here.
You're welcome and safe, Here.

So, welcome, Cleo.
You're welcome and safe HERE.
We have room for you.
We have love for you.
We have the time and we have the heart and we have the home for you.

And somewhere, all my angels?
Please tell Finny that Mommy says Hi, Honey.
Mommy says, I miss you, Little Man.

Please tell Finny that his room is still here, in my heart, waiting for him.

I found more rooms, I have more heart.


Alex said...

that is a cute kitty. i'm sure finny is smiling at you wherever he may be, knowing that his mum is the best!

devi said...

You are a good good mommy.