Socks was a foster kitty, when we welcomed him and his brother, Pounce, to our home. He was the spokesman of the two. If either wanted food or attention, he let us know. Tons of kitty cuteness with an unusually fluffy head, he was quite the addition to our family. Although we were immediately charmed by his boldness, our admiration quickly turned to annoyance. He had a…tick. He would tap everything. The Kleenex box, the pillows, the couch – us.
Tap, tap, tap, I need you to look me in the eye and see me now, now ,now, tap, tap……Ooh, look, I found the touch lamp; tap, tap, tap.
We assumed he had OCD. While still friendly, he couldn’t seem to stop tapping unless he was asleep. Then he drooled.
John, Chloe and Boxy
Pounce eventually decided that we were OK and became a permanent lap kitty. Why he was named Pounce, we couldn’t understand until one day, he dragged himself off the couch and played with something. He didn’t just move, he – oh yes, pounced. When it looked like the brothers were to become permanent members, we were, well… resigned to it.
Several years of tapping, drooling and sleeping of kitties went by when our daughter, Chloe, came along. Like any new baby, she was our jewel, our precious treasure wrapped up in her swaddle; big blue eyes melting us. She melted Socks as well. Now known as Box – part silly talk, part analogy to an empty box – he became Chloe’s guardian. He sat by us when I fed and rocked her. When I secured her in the swing so I could take a shower, he would come and let me know – loudly – when she woke. In would come Box, meowing off-key (which I didn’t know was possible) if she cried, fussed or expressed need in any little way.
In all of our new-parent fatigue, we didn’t notice that he tapped a little less.
Don’t mess with my baby.
As Chloe entered the toddler stage, Box became Boxy, the most patient cat in the world. Chloe pulled his tail and ears, carried him around upside down and he would just take it. He never bit her. Feeling a new found affection for him, we decided that Boxy wasn’t so empty after all. Tap, tap. I really love that baby, tap.
When Chloe was big enough to amuse herself for a while, he would join her in her room while she “read” to him. She dressed him in gift bows, hats and all sorts of adornments. Now and again, he would escape for a short while to take a break, but like any good caregiver, he would promptly resume his post at her side with an occasional tap.
Like most Dads, John would like to chase Chloe around and do anything to make her laugh. One evening, he was playing airplane with her while she screamed and laughed in merriment. In comes Boxy. He must have thought she was in danger because he just walked up to John and bit him – and continued to do that each time John and Chloe played airplane. His baby.
The day came when Boxy was tired and ready for eternal rest. Before putting him to sleep, the Vet expressed amazement that he was still alive. “His heart is failing, but he’s holding on for someone.”
Chloe was heartbroken. She lost her best friend. But he left her something much bigger than that.
At lunch recently, with Chloe and her baby brother, Noah, she said in between bites of sandwich, “Mommy, I believe in Jesus because of Boxy.”
I put my food down and looked into her sweet face. “That’s wonderful . But Jesus is more than just believing. He wants to live in your heart and be your friend.”
She gave me a big, mayonnaise-smeared smile. “I know Mommy. I asked him if he will live in my heart – because of Boxy.”
Yes, I tell my children that animals go to heaven. If one little OCD kitty that drools in his sleep can show Love without a single word, they must have their place in the eternal Kingdom.
Love is not found in the obvious, but in the subtleties. Tap.
A nudge, a flicker, a flutter of thought…be careful not to mistake His voice for an interruption.
Do you have your own critter story? Please share in the comments!