Jun. 14, 2019

WILL ALL OR...OR SOME OF US...GET A "CURTAIN CALL"?

It happened one early morning in April, 2014, shortly after Cubby and I 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 I heard the sound…a tiny sound like that of a whimpering kitten.  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 the vacant lot across the street, over-grown 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. I’d need to call the office to explain why I’d be late….but there were no scheduled meetings or deadlines. Saving this little baby had to be my number-one priority.

The curious 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 that name came to me but it just 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, our newest family member found his own little space-- on the bed—next to me. He clearly liked that I used a small baby blanket to keep him covered.  Climbing out of bed, the little voice inside me sounded 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. When he didn’t respond to my voice or to my touch, I knew the truth. I picked him up; now cold and unmoving…I cradled his precious little body in my hands. My sweet little Sugar Baby was now resting with the Angels.

My heart was broken. I dared not ask why.  There was no warning; nothing indicated that this dear, precious kitten was sick or in pain or…close to dying.

It was Sunday and, for the first time in my life-- without neighbors, close friends, family, or even a pet emergency room, I must bury Sugar Baby.  I found a new shoebox, lined it with a clean white hand towel, carefully placed my sweet little baby inside, 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 kitty-baby inside. I asked God to keep him safely in his loving care until I could re-claim him.  Then, crying uncontrollably at my loss, I blanketed Sugar Baby for the last time.

I don’t do well with loss, especially the loss of an innocent animal. Every loss is another hole in my heart.  Clearly, the moments I’ve spent with my animals have been the most-treasured moments of my life. No one has ever loved me like my dogs, my cats, my nannie-goat, and my outside-animal “menagerie”.   

Five months later, I opened my computer to find a message from a longtime friend--that also included 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. All the kittens had found homes except for the one in the picture.  The shelter had named the kitten… Clinton. I knew, immediately, this kitten was mine..  The sweet baby was sitting in a cage…waiting for me to bring him home.

The next day, Clinton-- quickly renamed “Sugar Babe”---came to live with me and Cubby and Candy and Cookie.  He’s been with us for almost three years and…not only does he look like Sugar Baby…with white spots in all the same places……..Sugar Babe sleeps beside me, wrapped in the same blanket and in the very spot….where Sugar Baby once-slept.  But, most spine-tingling 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 found Sugar Baby.

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