A term I’ve heard fairly often referring to the animals that come into our lives; seemingly inconsequential when compared with children, but then again perhaps not. One of the three cats that Kathy adopted while I was in prison, C.J., became more than a pet or even a fur baby, at least to me. Through her brokenness and at times violent objection to being caged in a pet carrier (it was definitely a two-person job with much trickery involved) she taught me much of how my journey Home was far too often a real mess.
When Kathy adopted her, she was worm-filled and the treatment (that was repeated over several months) being neuro-toxic, left her with a rather scrambled view of the world (cross-eyed notwithstanding). If it were necessary to take her anywhere (such as when we moved), we would have one person sit with a beach towel on their lap. The other conspirator would pick up C.J. and approach the beach towel, petting and speak softly to her. Once she was placed on the towel, the idea was to wrap her QUICKLY up, then lower the towel into the cat carrier. Once Kathy attempted to do this without help; the scars on her arms and hands, while not permanent, were a reminder not to do that again!
Yes, C.J. had her violent side, but she wormed her way into my heart with the gentler side of her persona. Many a morning, while the coffee was brewing, she would walk over and hop up onto my lap so I could pick her up and hold her on my shoulder. This routine would continue for a few years and was something I looked forward to each day. I remember writing about her seeking me out (not only in the morning but throughout the day as well) and often thought that God would have me seek him with the same persistence and intensity. My ‘professor’ of Cat Theology was a patient instructor; spending many an hour perched on my shoulder purring into my ear as I held her.
That changed a bit over the past few weeks; she also began being VERY vocal as she walked around the house. We put it off to her Siamese side coming out, but I missed the frequent shoulder times. Even when she did assent to climb onto my lap so I could hold her, it was rare for her to purr as she once had. Again, I shrugged it off…
This afternoon, when I came home, Kathy told me that C.J. wasn’t able to climb into the litter box and had urinated on the rug we have underneath it instead. We decided to take her to a local veterinarian whose warm manner and gentle treatment of C.J. seemed to help her (and me) relax a bit. I knew something was very wrong when I picked her up (sans towel) and gently placed her in the cat carrier, but we were hopeful that whatever it was, the vet could fix it. As it turned out, C.J. was in the last throes of diabetic ketoacidosis, and there was only one thing to do. I crouched beside the treatment table and wrapped one arm around her as I continually stroked her with my other hand, telling her how much I loved her. Soon, it was over and our C.J., my dear professor of theology, was gone.
Between tears and regret for not being more observant, I have been pondering what this last lesson the professor wanted me to learn. Don’t wait to tell those around you how much you love them because you may not have a tomorrow with that person. Be ‘in the moment’every day, or, as Jim Elliot put it, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t take for granted the love of others (even your fur babies); be sure they know that you care for them.
Thank you, C.J.; for all the wisdom you have given me; thank you, God, for sharing this creature with me for these far too few years.