“I think that’s Callie.” Said Link’s friend as he petted the cat in Gleek’s lap. This small recognition led to the doorbell ringing an hour later. An 11 year old girl was at the door. I knew her and her family. She was in my creative writing class over a year ago. Her mother is Kiki’s youth group leader. They live around a couple of corners and down the block. The girl was here to see if our Keeka, that we found just over two weeks ago, was her cat Callie, who went missing last November. I led her to the back where Link was playing with Keeka. As we walked, a small piece of me hoped that she would be disappointed, so that my children would not have to be. I thought of the hours that Gleek and Kiki had spent just sitting outside and petting Keeka. We would never have deliberately gone out to acquire a cat, but a beautiful and friendly one had come to us unasked.
“Callie!” the girl gasped with delight. For a moment Gleek was delighted to swap cat stories. Gleek chattered about how we had found Keeka under our deck and rescued her. But then realization began to set in. Suddenly this cat was no longer our Keeka. She was someone else’s Callie. Gleek crumpled into sobs. I quickly realized that I could not just let the girl carry away our cat. Instead we walked with her, so that Gleek could see the home where Keeka lived. Patch came too, but Kiki and Link elected to stay home. Callie was greeted with delight by the rest of the family. They had all missed her and mourned her. It was a sight that Gleek needed to see. We came inside to talk about how the cat was lost and then found. Gleek got to see Callie curl up in her favorite chair and start purring. She also got to play with two tiny poodle dogs. Then I gathered my kids and we bid farewell.
All of my kids have a standing invitation to go and visit Callie any time they want. When we acquired the cat, this is actually the outcome I hoped for most, that she could go back to a home where she could be allowed indoors, but where my kids could visit. It is good, and yet tomorrow morning will be sad when there is no cat meowing at the back door to remind us that her bowl is empty. Tomorrow afternoon will be sad when she is not sitting on the doorstep waiting for the kids to arrive and pet her. We will go visit, but it will not be quite the same as when she was ours. But then I think of the joy on my friends’ faces. If I am a little bit sad, they were much more sad and now they are not. And neither is Callie. She was glad to be home.