I haven't seen her in three days, and I don’t think she’s coming back.
It was a short relationship, beginning with a text from my husband in the early morning. “Get up and come to the garage - I trapped a cat in there for you!” I hopped out of bed and ran outside, barefoot and still in my nightshirt. Sure enough, there was a soft kitten padding around Evan’s workshop. She had actually trapped him by walking right in and making herself at home on his workbench, jumping from his John Deer lawn mower to the hood of his car. Although she was busy exploring the garage, she let me scoop her up and hold her like a baby, purring into my face. For dog people, listening to a cat purr is like watching a dog wag its tail. Simple, but deep joy. The kind that cuts through life’s sadness.
“Where did you come from?” I asked her, as she nuzzled her head into my neck, then wiggled away to play some more. She stayed all day in our yard, climbing trees, eating the tuna we set out for her, and napping on Evan’s things. We wondered if she had a home elsewhere, or if she was a stray who had chosen us to be her family.
We let her roam. It seemed like the right thing to do, in case someone was missing her. When we got home from work that next day, she was gone. And the thing is, I have felt disportionately sad about it. Such a small thing. But for some reason it feels like the culmination of all the losses of this year. The loss of fellowship. Of plans. Of people assuming the best about one another. Of our baby. Maybe our only one. I was so excited to meet her.
There was a children’s book my mom used to read to me about a boy who lost one of his mittens in the snow, and a bunch of forest animals found it. One by one, they climbed into it for warmth. Somehow the glove was able to hold a rabbit, a fox, and even a bear, but when a tiny mouse stepped inside, that small creature was ultimately what caused the mitten to burst.
I know it was just a cat, but maybe she was the thing that finally burst my winter glove. She is probably back with her family, or travelling the town in ornery wildness, bringing random people joy by walking into their yard and inserting herself into their lives for a moment or two. She wasn’t mine to keep. But lately, it’s hard not to want to capture - even steal - small bursts of joy and put them on ice. Find a way to make them last. To distract us from the heaviness of this time in history.
If small things are causing big feelings in you right now, you’re not alone. There is so much to grieve. The whole world is aching. We are allowed to feel that. We are allowed to be sad and pray like children: “God, help.” “Heal.” “Show mercy.” “Come back soon.” He listens. He understands. And He loves us.