A Blessing in Black Teaches a Lesson
To understate it, the past seven months have been some of the most difficult in my life, which has been 76 years so far, so there’s a lot to pick from.
My sister and I, along with a horse, dog, seven cats, four ducks, two guinea pigs, three rats, a pick-up truck and horse trailer (both of which had to be shipped) relocated from California’s northern Sierra foothills to a rural area around Charlotte, North Carolina. The logistical problems are obvious. What wasn’t obvious was that we would meet with problems of varying severity—from bad to really bad—at every step along the ways. Then there was the strain which all the stress put on my sister’s and my relationship.
For instance, consider the cross-country drive. It was six days on the road with the dog, ducks, rats, and guinea pigs (the horse and cats were transported in other ways then boarded until we arrived in North Carolina)—six days of my sister and I being in each other’s presence 24/7 after each of us had lived alone for so many years. The weather was harsh, with ice and snow. In places, disabled 18-wheelers littered the shoulders of the roads. We regularly got lost getting on and off the interstate to our hotel, and a few times ended up in pretty scary neighborhoods.
You'd think arriving at our destination would be the end of it. But actually, we had to wait nearly three weeks for our belongings to arrive in the giant truck which held—it turned out—only half of them. Next, we waited another two weeks for the rest, or at least most of the rest, to show up.
Now, we’re faced with the task of rebuilding the full lives we’d had before.
But, I didn’t mention why we moved. It was to be near my only daughter and her family. We achieved it, despite everything. And, even considering all the problems along the way and all the challenges still ahead, I’ve always known it was absolutely the right thing to do.
But what about the Blessing in Black?
Clyde is the blessing in black. After we’d been here about a month, I saw a black cat climbing over the fence and disappearing into the trees. There’s a horse barn next to us and the owner is kind enough to take in several cats from his friend’s cat rescue efforts. I thought this little black one might be one of those, striking out on his own for brief periods.
It was few weeks before I saw him/her again. I was making my breakfast and when I looked out the kitchen window, there he was in the corner of the horse pasture! I rushed to find a dish and fill it with cat food. As I opened the back door, I wondered what he would do, but was pretty sure he’d just run away. But, no! I meowed, and he meowed back. I approached slowly, meowing several more times. He stood his ground. I was able to walk right up to him, offer the dish of cat food, and retreat. He ate hungrily.
That happened the next two mornings, and on the second one when I meowed, he came running to me. I was able to pick him up and pet him, and he clearly enjoyed it. It was a miracle-a furry connection in a strange land!
After that, I put his dish on my back deck, and we saw each other regularly, morning and night, for nearly two weeks.
Then one morning, he wasn’t there. He showed up in the evening. But the next day, he didn’t come at all. I was crushed. I wasn’t too concerned about his safety. He seemed to be a street-wise cat, and wasn’t at all skinny. He knew how to take care of himself. Concern for the animals’ safety was my go-to reaction, but it was something different this time.
So, what was emotionally crushing? I was abandoned. I felt I’d found a creature to love me.
Then, when he wasn’t there, I was utterly lost. I spent most of that morning lying on my bed crying or feeling so very alone. It may not make sense, but there it was.
It was another few days until I saw him again, and during that time I came to understand and—this is the amazing part—accept that when we come to each other, we come on our own terms.
My terms are I’m here for the sweet black cat whenever he decides to grace me with his presence. His terms are unknown to me, but I am determined to respect them and not expect more than he can give.