He hadn’t been home in a couple of days and that was odd…he’s usually at the food dish early and often, then sleeps in my chair overnight.
He snores like an old man…
When he didn’t come loping and howling across the street to greet me yesterday, I was already worried.
Maybe he had gotten in trouble roaming about the neighborhood, maybe… he had been taken to the pound.
I would just go down and bail my bad boy out of the kitty slammer and bring him home where he belongs.
I don’t handle the pound well…I get too emotional about the animals.
One cat asked me to take him home when we walked through the door, another was brought in having been torn apart by a dog.
By the time the volunteer came to help us, I was already distraught.
It took me five minutes to fumble through a description of Chester before I realized I had about three dozen pictures of him on my phone.
The wonderfully kind volunteer squeezed my shoulder…”he’s here”.
I was praising the Lord out loud and crying for joy when the same lady interrupted me.
“Sir, you need to know that Chester is very sick. He’s actually terminally ill.”
Chester has FIV, which the lady (now holding my hand with both of her own) informed me was the feline equivalent of AIDS.
“He might last a few years, or you might come home next week and find that he’s passed away”.
I told her that in any case he would die at home with his family…I just wanted to take him home…now.
“Sir…this cat can never, ever, leave your house again. If he goes outside and bites another cat, that cat will be infected. He must stay inside”.
I knew then that Chester would never come home again.
All our cats are strays and they all roam freely in and out of the house…Chester needs room and he would be miserable cooped up in my small space.
I couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t get out…so my duty to the other cats in the neighborhood and those who love them is to leave my dear friend behind.
This knowing crushed my heart.
The volunteer said they don’t normally adopt out FIV cats…unless they are special.
Chester, she said, is very special.
Yes…yes, he is.
So…sometime in the next couple of days I will be led back to a room full of cages to say goodbye to my friend for the last time.
My prayer is that I am able to communicate to him how much he is loved and how much he meant to me as he shared part of my pilgrimage with me.
I pray that he knows how thankful I am that he trusted me to be his person.
My God, I pray that someone else realizes how special he is and gives him a huge home with a “catio” to romp in.
I am inconsolable.
This world is not my home…but my Lord has gone to prepare a place for me…and Chester, and all my departed fur friends…with a catio.
A word about the folks in the county animal shelter.
While we were waiting (and I was becoming visibly unglued) one of the volunteers came up to comfort me.
“We’re here for all of these cats and we all love them”.
‘We do everything possible to care for them”.
A big, gruff looking, old codger came up and put his arm around my shoulders…”don’t be ashamed of your tears…”
“We should probably leave the dog tour for another day, though” he joked.
He thanked me for praying for the injured cat…
It struck me that when I think about these folks in the future I will remember their love.
They will be known for their love.
I’m sure they have policies and procedures, rules and regulations.
What I will remember is how they treated me and how they treat those creatures they have been given stewardship over.
I read in a book somewhere that there were places like that….
Make your own application…