It was that time of Spring again when the robins resume roaming the front yard of St. Clarence Church. Winston sat on the steps watching them intently. The joyful birds were a pleasant distraction from his gloomy mood. He had attempted to sneak into the church service but was promptly ushered out. From the steps, he could hear the preacher pontificating about “eternal second chances.” Winston rolled his eyes.
“That’s a joke!” he said to himself, licking his paw. “People have always said cats have nine lives. Well, I’ve been keeping count and mine are all used up! Perhaps even now death is on the way for me. Or perhaps I am simply destined to live forever on the streets ignored by humans. My nine chances at love are over.”
Winston began to mentally rewind time to the days his first life began and each life which followed…
One spring morning, underneath a hydrangea bush, a small orange and white kitten opened his eyes for the first time. He saw his mother above him and his little brother beside him. He felt warm, safe, and loved being cared for with great devotion by his mother. During those days, he could not understand what the word ‘love’ meant, but he felt it deeply as he cuddled with his family. One night, however, his little brother was suddenly gone. He could not understand it and felt great sorrow. He and his mother moved under a hemlock tree near a park. In the distance, the kitten heard sounds of children playing. His mother advised him to steer clear of all people.
When the kitten was 7 weeks old, his mother went out one day to find food for herself. She found some in a strange box. He could recall seeing her enter this only to find it close behind her. She was trapped! He tried to figure out a way to help but soon heard footsteps running near and remained hidden.
“We caught our first stray, Ma!” said a voice.
“Good work! We’ll take it to the vet, poor thing.”
The people picked up his mother in the cage and put her in the back of a strange vehicle. She meowed desperately for her son but he could not reach her.
The kitten was alone. He waited for a long time under the tree, hoping for his mother’s return. Frightened and hungry, he finally wandered out in search of her. He became lost in his own thoughts trying to survive. Would he ever feel safe and warm again? It had only been 2 days, but it felt to him like a lifetime. He made his way back to the hemlock tree. He hid from the world weak and lonely. He heard footsteps and let out a meow. Could it be the people were bringing his mother back to him?
A young woman named Hannah was walking home from work at sunset when she heard the faintest meow coming from under a tree.
“Kitty!” she cried, pulling back the branches. She then heard a hiss. The kitten had clearly never been confronted by a person before and looked dangerously thin.
“It’s okay kitty, I’m here to help you. You’re my answered prayer and I won’t leave you.” she said calmly. She took off her sweatshirt and put on some gloves she had in her bag. Slowly and carefully she managed to wrap the kitten up and held him tight. He hissed and tried to scratch but he was too weak to do much harm. Hannah got him to the emergency animal hospital right away. The vet gave her supplies to help care for him. She took him to her home and bottle fed him until he was stronger and ready to try solid foods. She held him often, petted him, and spoke to him. He was hesitant and scared of her at first, but she remained patient and kind. He soon realized she made him feel warm, safe, and loved. Hannah reminded him of his own mother in that way. He began to enjoy the sound of her voice and purred in response to her affection.
One night she held him close and told him a story.
“I have been praying for a companion lately, and I believe God is faithful and blessed me with you. I pray also for a child to be a sibling for you and I trust He will provide in His time. God loves you, Winston. Did you know that was your name? And do you know what love is, Winston? ‘Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always wins.’ That’s right! Love wins, Winston! Just like the way love won for you and I when God brought us together.”
Winston was not sure what all her words meant, but his human mother showed him what love was in how she treated him and he was so grateful.
On the night of Winston’s first birthday, he awoke from cuddling to a strange smell and a loud noise. Hannah sprung awake and whispered “Fire!”
“Winston!” her voice changed to a shout, scooping him up and opening the window of her second floor bedroom. “You have to get out! I love you!” she said emotionally and tossed him into the oak tree outside. He frantically grabbed the branches in a daze.
“What’s happening!?” he thought.
“Run!” yelled Hannah from the window.
Out of fear and obedience, Winston ran; but only to the other side of the street. What about his mother? He couldn’t run away without her. His worried thoughts were interrupted by a cacophony of sirens coming from huge vehicles. Winston watched as humans in bulky outfits hurried into his home. Soon they emerged helping Hannah out. She appeared weak and was coughing. Should he go to her? The frightening flames he now saw emerging from the house gave him pause, however. A bulky outfitted human lifted her into the back of a strange vehicle. Winston meowed for her but could not be heard. The vehicle rode swiftly away with his mother. Winston then watched in shock as his home and the life he knew there burned.
The now adult cat was alone. Since the fire caused a dramatic shift in his life, he had been roaming the streets confused, hungry, and lonely. He visited the remains of his home on occasion, hoping his mother would return. She never did. Eventually, he began to explore other neighborhoods. He learned gradually what being a stray was all about: hunting for food, having competitive staring contests with other cats, and observing the odd behaviors of humankind. It was a lonely life, but he became accustomed to it. After 2 years of this, he would march confidently each day throughout the neighborhoods.
One afternoon, napping on the porch of an abandoned house, the smell of tuna fish found his nose. He perked up and thought “Oh, my favorite! Perhaps I can convince the humans in possession of this deliciousness to share with me!” He generally avoided people, but for a good meal an interaction was worth it. He made his way to a backyard and jumped onto the top of a small slide beside a swing set. He had a perfect view of 3 children having a picnic.
“Ugh.” he said. “Miniature humans are the most annoying! However, they possess the tuna!” And thus, he approached. . .
TO BE CONTINUED.
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