December 7, 2012
As I walked past the other people in the room, I was shaking. I asked the women working behind the counter if that was the only black kitten they had. She assured me that it was and told me that he had already been adopted. When she saw the tears streaming down my cheeks, she looked past me and saw my son kneeling by the cage. She looked back at me and said, “Is that your little boy?” I nodded. “Are you Deb?” Again, I nodded. Then, she leaned over and whispered, “I snuck the “adopted sign” on the cage after you called. That kitten is yours.”Several years ago tragedy struck our family. But it was the gesture of one stranger who quietly helped us to begin the healing process.When our son first set eyes on this little ball of black fluff, he promptly named him “Kitten.” Kitten was cute and cuddly, but being a farm kitty, he was not used to being around people and he was always underfoot. After he was with us only one week, tragedy struck. My husband was carrying a large basket of laundry, and he bent over to set it on a chair. As he backed away from the chair, he accidentally stepped on Kitten. My son and I watched in horror as our new pet was injured beneath his foot. We screamed and cried as we wrapped our little kitty in a warm towel. Then we raced to the emergency animal clinic. My son and I prayed out loud all the way there, asking God to save Kitten. My husband prayed silently as he sat frozen in pain and guilt, tears silently trickling down his cheeks. Our then four-year-old son had been begging us to let him get a pet of his own. Our two cats were getting old and sickly and we knew they would not be with us much longer. So we finally gave in to our son’s wishes. When we told him he could get a kitty, he promptly informed us, “It has to be a boy and it has to be black!” He was in luck. My husband’s cousin had a litter of kittens at his farm and one was a black male. So off we went to Illinois to adopt our new pet.When we arrived, we raced into the clinic and begged the veterinarian to use any life-saving measures she could to save Kitten. We called the clinic several times that night, and the medical updates went from hopeful to dismal. Early the next morning, the vet called to tell me it was hopeless and suggested that I come in to sign the order to put Kitten to sleep. Time and again I was told that there were no black kittens available. Then, just as I was about to give up, I made one final call to an animal shelter located about 20 miles north of our home. Once again I found myself asking if there was a black kitten available, and to my amazement, the woman said, “Yes!” I proceeded to tell her the entire story about Kitten, pausing a few times to get my crying under control. Because I had to pick up my son at preschool, I asked her if she would be willing to “hold” the kitten for me, assuring her that I could arrive within the hour. She told me, “No. I can’t hold any animals for you. We’re not allowed to do that. You’ll just have to take your chances and hope he’s here when you arrive.” When I arrived at my son’s preschool, his eyes were red and swollen from crying. He was so despondent that I decided to take my chances and tell him about this new kitten. As we walked to the car, I said, “David, I’ve found a little black kitty that is living in a cage and is very lonely.” He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said, “Mom we have GOT to rescue that kitty–let’s go!” So we jumped in the car and raced to the animal shelter. When we arrived, we flew through the door and immediately caught sight of a large display cage located in the lobby, which housed one beautiful black kitten. My son said, “There he is!” Then he ran over to the cage and began petting and playing with his new kitty. I was so relieved, until I raised my eyes and saw the sign posted near the top of the cage–ADOPTED. I told her how my husband and son were suffering and begged her to make an exception. I even offered the name and phone number of the emergency vet so she could call to verify my story. Again, she firmly told me, “No exceptions!” After I hung up, I had the painful task of telling my son and husband that our new pet was dying. The pain in their eyes ripped my heart in two. I was deeply worried about both of them when my husband left to drop my son off at his preschool and head into work. So I drove to the clinic, said good-bye to our kitty and signed the papers that would end his life. I walked out in a daze, clutching the towel we had used to keep him warm. When I got to my car, I cried my eyes out for nearly an hour. Once I calmed down, the protective mom in me wondered, “How can I possibly turn this situation around?” So I picked up my cell phone and began calling every pet store and animal shelter in our area to see if anyone had a black kitten I could buy. She walked over to the cage, picked up the kitten, put him in my son’s arms and said, “Thank you for rescuing our kitty. He was very lonely.” As I hugged her thankfully, I felt I was hugging an angel.
This woman’s willingness to bend the rules that day turned our tragedy around and brought joy back to our family. When my husband came home from work that evening and saw our son playing with his new “Kitten,” his tears of gratitude said more than any words could ever express.