One of the hardest days of my life was when Joey, a newborn kitten, didn’t survive. We’d taken in a young pregnant stray female during a horrific February blizzard and, although four of her six kittens were born alive, they weren’t healthy and didn’t live long. The temperatures were so bone chilling that our vet told us the kittens couldn’t survive a trip to their office, so we didn’t even try that route.
I felt so helpless, holding each one against my heartbeat as life faded. I didn’t know what to say, so I would whisper to each that its life mattered to me, very much, short as it was. The last to succumb was plucky Joey.
We donated cat toys to the Friendship Animal Protective League in their honor–and then I just plain grieved.
Five months later, my sister asked me to go to Friendship APL to make videos of the dogs that were up for adoption. She volunteers at the APL and puts cat videos on Facebook to help potential adoptees see a glimpse of an animal’s personality; this day was unlike any other, though, because she was going to help out by taking videos of dogs.
I said, “Sure.” We get there–and it immediately starts pouring down rain. Since we were going to do the dog videos outdoors, the storm canceled that plan.
Since we were already at the APL, Plan B was to photograph the kittens awaiting adoption. These photos would be uploaded to the APL website so people could see what the kittens looked like and would also include a description of them.
As we were walking through the room, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I looked down and an eight-week-old kitten had reached out through her cage for me. She was looking me right in the eye and was telling me a story in a series of mews. I smiled, reaching down to untangle my shirt, but this kitten just tugged me closer. She looked, of course . . . remarkably like Joey.
The name on the cage read Izzie. “Okay, Izzie girl,” I said, “I will hold you for five minutes, then we have to take more pictures!”
I picked her up.
She cuddled against my heartbeat.
I took her home.
Now, I’m briefly going back in time. From January 2013 to March 2014–only 14 months, mind you!–I’d had nine colon surgeries, four major, one a life-threatening emergency. I’d had a colostomy for eight months and it was a tough time, indeed. We’d hoped that would be the end of my surgeries. But, around Izzie’s first birthday, I discovered that I needed significant abdominal reconstruction. Because I’d had so many colon surgeries, so fast, with no time to appropriately heal, my abdominal muscles had healed in twisted ways and my colon was getting trapped–something that could ultimately be life-threatening.
The surgery went extremely well–and guess who didn’t leave my side during recovery? Izzie! She didn’t demand attention, just comforted me and made me smile. I am so grateful for Izzie and her companionship and love. She had been part of a litter of a stray cat, just like Joey. The APL was full to the brim when these kittens needed help, but they still found a way to rescue them. Friendship is the BEST.