Dec. 20, 2017

REPEAT PERFORMANCE

 

It happened early one morning in April, 2014, shortly after Cubby and I had finished a quick walk. My next step was to put Cubby-Dog in the house, jump in the car, and begin the usual rat-race to work.

Then, at that moment, I heard the sound…a tiny sound like that of a whimpering kitten in pain.  Standing there, trying to pinpoint its location, I knew I must investigate, discover the source. Otherwise, I’d think of nothing else all day.

I retraced my steps to a vacant lot, overgrown with tall grass and neglect. Feeling my way through the growth, I heard-then spotted-the tiny gray and white kitten, sitting on an old woodpile. Picking it up, holding it close, I fell in love. Who cared I’d need to call the office to explain why I’d be late ….there were no scheduled meetings, reports due, or places to be. Saving this little baby had to be my number-one priority.

The Feisty Kitty seemed quite at home as he moved in and out of the furniture, exploring various rooms. I barely got the food bowls in front of him before he’d devoured every bite. After showing him the litter box, introducing him to the other cats--- Cookie and Candy—I hurried off to work.

I named the kitten, Sugar Baby. Who knows why the name just came to me but it seemed to fit. Everything about Sugar Baby was sweet.  The vet estimated he was six weeks old, neglected, and starving, but predicted that love, food, and a good home would restore Sugar Baby to a happy future.

Five days later, I woke up at 2:30 am, and Sugar Baby wasn’t on the bed. Since the day he joined Cubby, Cookie, Candy, and me, he’d found his little space, on the bed beside me. He clearly liked that I used a small blanket to keep him covered.  Climbing out of bed, I heard the little voice inside me sound a warning--- something was wrong.

There in the living room, in his second-favorite resting spot, I found Sugar Baby… curled-up on his side, his head resting on his little white paws, his eyes closed. But, when he didn’t respond to my voice or to my touch, I knew the truth. I picked him up, so cool and unmoving…cradled his precious little body in my hands…. and was forced to accept that Sugar Baby was now resting with the Angels.

My heart was broken. I dared not ask “why” although nothing indicated my little kitten was sick, in pain, or near death.

It was Sunday and, for the first time in my life, without neighbors, close friends, or family, I was responsible for burying Sugar Baby.  I found a new shoebox, lined it with clean white hand towels, carefully placed my sweet little baby among the towels, and taped the lid shut. I wrote Sugar Baby’s name on the box before wrapping and taping the box as securely as possible. Digging a hole in my side yard, I placed my baby inside, then, crying uncontrollably at my loss, said goodbye before blanketing him permanently.

I don’t do well with loss, especially the loss of an innocent animal. Every loss is another hole in my heart.

Five months later, conversing with friends on my timeline, I opened a message from a longtime friend--- with a picture. It was a photo of a kitten, gray and white, looking back at me. The writing under the picture said someone had found six kittens abandoned in a field and had brought them to the Saline County Humane Society. They’d all found homes except for the one in the picture, named Clinton.

One day later, Clinton—renamed Sugar Babe---came to live with us. He’s been with us for almost three years and…not only does he look like Sugar Baby’s twin, with white spots in the same places, Sugar Babe sleeps beside me, in the very spot, wrapped in the very same blanket…. once-occupied by his predecessor.  Most uncanny of all, Sugar Babe is my only indoor-outdoor cat. When I look for him outside, I always find him in the exact place I rescued Sugar Baby.

“Who can explain it…Who can tell you why. Fools give you reasons…Wise Men never try.”

Sally Miller