A few months after we put our first cat, Luke, to sleep due to recurrent kidney stones, Anna and I went to the Humane Society.
We walked into the cat section, going from cage to cage hoping to find an identical loving, cuddly companion to replace our sweet Luke. After none of the cats passed Anna's criteria we were directed by an employee to a large room filled with sixty cats that had been living together in a trailer. The sign on the door said:
ALL CATS IN THIS ROOM HALF PRICE
Opening the door, we felt like giants in an ant colony as the cats scattered. Some of the them were sleeping or cowered in groups. Anna decided to sit on the floor and whatever cat came to her lap would become our new feline resident.
She sat for a few minutes, and finally a black, white and orange calico bravely made its way over, climbed into her waiting lap, and curled in a little ball. Anna smiled, gave me a "thumbs up," and Lucy became ours.
Now, Lucy wasn't as cuddly as she appeared that day. We found initial impressions were not quite as they seemed. When we brought Lucy home, she didn't like to be held, stiffening her legs, pushing away every time I picked her up. Staying in our house required that Lucy enjoy being held and carried.
After Anna returned to college, "boot camp" for Lucy began. I gathered this soft ball of fur and held her close until she could stand it no more. She'd leap to the floor after a few minutes. Every day for weeks I worked with Lucy, wanting her to become something she wasn't - a cuddly cat.
After a month or so, whatever held Lucy back from fully embracing my love finally melted. When I sat down, she curled to mold my lap. When I picked her up she relaxed over my shoulder like a sleeping child.
When Anna moved to Oregon in 2008, Lucy's attentiveness to me and sensitivity to my heart erupted. She seemed to know when my heart ached for my children, coming to me more often to be held. Somehow she was aware of my need for comfort. When I was holding her close, she was also holding me.
Recently I awakened close to 5:30 a.m., way too early for me to get up. I lay in bed, restless, creating anxiety that I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. I heard a thud as Lucy jumped onto the bed. She rested vertically on my pillow so her torso was next to my face.
I put my hand on her back feeling her soft fur and heartbeat. Resting my hand over her heart, I captured the steady rhythm. In a few minutes my body relaxed. I awakened ninety minutes later to find Lucy still close by.
Sometimes value is not what it seems and only time can discover depth that lies within.
Prayer: God, thank you for creating animals that often bring comfort and companionship. Amen.