You have no idea. This picture will be a shock to my wife too. You have no idea. Cassie spent an hour UPSTAIRS with me yesternight.
All right. Backing up. Fourteen years ago, my beautiful wife agreed to foster the three surviving kittens of a feral litter. Turned out to be what in rescue parlance is called a dump and run. She became their mother, for better or worse.
Three of them. There was Penny, the most beautiful of the lot. We lost her after a tragic accident of outsideness. Feral doesn’t mean ‘Great Hunter.’ It means, in cat context, motherless child. You can read dates. Don’t need to tell you when we lost her.
There was Mickey, who had a marked aversion to human contact. Me, being my not so smart self, set about making friends with him ten years ago. (Can it really be that long ago? Time flies when you’re all getting old.) I would suddenly pick him up, hold him for a few seconds, and let him go. The day came when he leaped, unasked, into my lap. Los Ojos. The most beautiful eyes. Lost him a while ago.
You have no idea. Sorry. Repeating myself. Where were we? The gorgeous one, Penny, who died after a trick life played on a feral. The strong one, who became, well, Captain America without the magical shield. Brave, loyal, faithful, friend. Broke my heart to see him die. Killed me to watch Mickey die.
And Cassie in the garage. The runt, the scared one, the cat most likely to die in the rafters and require an exterminator when her body has to be pried out of the rafters.
And then, after the deaths of Mickey and Izzie (our tiny Bengal), Cassie finally moved from the garage to the house. Under couches is a pretty good strategy for an Izzie-sized cat when there’s no more Izzie on the scene.
I thought, “Good!” She’ll reconnect with her mom. Didn’t give much thought to the cat who’d been without for like ALL of her life.
Now, it almost feels like an affair. I can feel my wife’s resentment. After a decade in the rafters, the only human person Cassie wants to talk to is ME.
It’s idiotic. Imbecilic. Moronic. My mother used to refer to a phenomenon called “going round Robin Hood’s barn” to explain away what should be obvious. She was from Ohio, though, so we know how dumb Dana Millbank and Jonathon Chait would have found her.
The awful, awfully ironic truth. Cassie moved in and fixated on me. The guy who, honestly, thought she was gonna die in the rafters and make a stink while I grieved for Mickey and Penny.
Is there a God? You tell me. I have travelled a long road. My dad used to boast of running cats off the road if not killing them with his car. I was mean, very, to a cat in Ithaca, New York. Then there was Webster. Who saved my life while scarring my fingers forever. (Incidentally, probably saved my dad’s soul too. Go figure.) And then a long long string of cats I have loved with all my selfish heart.
Culminating in Cassie. She loves me. She waits for me. You have no idea. She lives under couches and only comes out when I’m there.
Sorry. You have no idea. Ten years plus of cats I courted and won a single bout out of five or six. Then, in the eleventh hour, comes Cassie, who has decided to love me and me alone.
What is God trying to tell me? I’m thinking, “Quit trying to be so smart and learn something about Grace.” I’m sure the atheists have a much better answer… Good night, Gracie.