One of the things I promised myself after being diagnosed with breast cancer was that I was never going to work on my birthday again. My birthday’s in late December, so when I was a kid it was always during Christmas holiday. For some reason I decided this would be a good way to spend the rest of my working life.
I had big plans this year: reading The Bolter on my shiny new Christmas Kindle, surfing the web, blogging, reworking poems. Then came a knock at the door. It was a flock of four little girls and a big friendly orange cat. I’d seen the cat around; he greeted me with a head butt and twined around my legs. “He likes you,” one of them said.
The little girls told me they were going door to door to try to find his owner. I said I didn’t think he was homeless but if he needed one I’d sure take him, since my kitty had passed away a few months back. I wished them luck in their search and went back to my laptop.
Knock knock knock. They were back.
“He won’t follow us. Do you still have a leash?” (They must be dog people. Cats don’t do leashes, or following.)
“No, I”m sorry, I don’t.”
Back to the laptop.
Knock knock knock.
“Can you show us how to hold him?” (They’re definitely dog people.)
“Sure, but kitties don’t always like to be held. We’ll see.” I scooped up 15 pounds of cat and he didn’t protest for the first 20 seconds, then started squeaking. I set him down. “He asked nice but he didn’t like that. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you.” I went into the house.
Knock knock knock. Little blond girl. “Will you watch him while we go knock on doors?”
It was actually a pretty decent day for late December in Nebraska–something like 50 degrees. I thought what the heck, I could do worse than hang out with a cat. “Sure, I’ll watch him. I’ll be right out.” I wanted to grab my Kindle. I closed the door.
Knock knock knock. Little brunette girl. “We just wanted you to know we decided if he doesn’t have a home, we think you deserve him.”
I could feel myself melting into a puddle. I said, “Well, thank you. I appreciate that.” And off they went.
I watched them walk away, hair shining in the sun, on a mission to save a cat. I pictured them growing into young women, comforting each other through their first loves and losses, and later, the heartbreak of cancer, the same way they comforted me over a cat. We need to give these little girls a different outlet for their kindness by the time they grow up. I think they deserve it.