IMG_0490This is an open letter to a frequent friend.

It’s always hard to say goodbye, and often times the circumstances never allow us the way to say them that we truly wish.

You entered our lives very quietly, I’m sure like you came and went from so many others. It was in the grassy green of our backyard a few years ago that we first spotted you, lounging in the sun, shortly after we rescued our first feline son. We wondered where you had come from, and worried about where you were headed when you’d take off. At that time, though, you kept your distance, with good reason, I’m sure.

We lovingly nicknamed you Monster after noticing your extra toes. You were a polydactyl cat, much like those hanging around Ernest Hemingway.

As you appeared more frequently in our lives, and the temperatures turned colder, we did our best to make sure you had what you needed – whether it be a blanket, a box, or just some bits to eat, checking on you, or your quarters in our garage became part of my daily routine before work each day, especially in the cold winter, even when I knew you wanted us at bay.

There was a period when so much time had passed since we last saw you that my heart sank and we wondered ‘whatever happened to that Monster?’ In time, we realized you had moved on, perhaps finding a home somewhere to your liking.

Life went on, the seasons changed, and we welcomed two more feline buddies into our lives.

IMG_1686Then, one late summer day, there you were, after an almost year-long absence, sitting under my car. “Where had you been?” i wondered, and what brought you back.

It didn’t matter; we were just glad to know you were okay. In the months that followed, you showed us you were more than okay. You, this fiercely independent, domineering spirit, suddenly displayed affection, love, and need. I will never forget how overjoyed I became, calling Meg to the window when you walked right up and rubbed up against me, looking for some affection. After a few years of giving you your space, here you were, back, and saying you knew this place, and we, were okay. We could be your sanctuary.

And so it began. We bonded. Each morning, I’d head out to the car for work, and peek into the garage. If it was colder, or icy out, you’d often be inside, keeping warm, wrapped inside a blanket. In the warmer seasons, you’d often be behind the garage, but greet me at the door when I came outside to make sure you were fed or all right. By that time in our friendship, you were always more interested in getting pet, having some contact, than you actually were in any food.

IMG_1682Through the harsh winter, I fluffed blankets, and was glad to see you curled up in them out in our garage, and never knew if you ever got any effect from the hand warmers that I would leave buried in them for a little extra warmth.

As the weather this year began to warm and the snow thawed, you no doubt were spending your time out doing what you do best – living the life of a wandering cat. Your appearances became less, but when we did get a visit from you, you always greeted us with a rub, a meow, and a jump that so clearly said ‘please pet me, I need love,’ and we were more than happy to give it. My heart would always sink into my stomach, though, when you’d leave, and I’d worry about what would happen to such a kind soul beyond the boundaries of our yard.

This week, I returned home from work one night and stumbled in the driveway trying to find something in my phone, when, out of nowhere, you suddenly appeared. You meowed, as you often did, but you weren’t interested in food.

You were hurt.

I’d seen cuts and scrapes here and there over the course of your occasional visits, but nothing like this. Your ear down the side of your face, bloodied, you had a run-in you weren’t so easily able to shake off and you came back to a place you always felt safe.

For so long we knew that you were used to the life you had, and let you come and go, not wanting to disturb the balance of your life that seemed to make you so content.

This time, though, things were different. You needed help and we couldn’t let you just stumble off.

We scooped you up from the yard and brought you to our basement, with food and water to follow. You were so kind and accepting when Meg tried to clean your wounds with peroxide to try and help you, even for a little bit. I went to the store and got you a small disposable litter box to get you through this time until we could figure out what to do next.

IMG_0908With our three feline boys upstairs, curious of what was going on in the basement they couldn’t access, we knew, as much as we’d love to, we could not keep you ourselves. You needed help, though.

A quick phone call later and I got hold of the very kind Animal Control Officer, who said while he worked nights, he could come by in the morning. It was the only way you could get to the Humane Society, through him, and we knew you needed the help.

So you were our house guest for the night, which turned out to be a torrential downpour, with loud crackles of thunder sprinkled in for mood. We were glad you got to be away from it all and safe and dry below.

Going late into work, I waited for the animal control officer to arrive, and my heart shattered when we went into the basement together to find you. You were scared, and still wounded, blood still pouring down your head despite the previous night’s cleaning. You meowed that wonderful meow I’ve come to look forward to whenever I’d set foot in the backyard for our mutual meet and greets, but this time it had with it the sadness of a soul knowing they were in danger.

I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful response from the animal control officer, who was kind and patient both as we looked for you in the basement and getting you transported to the humane society.

As we parted ways, I held it together, but in the car, on the way to work, I could not help but break out into tears. My furry little friend, now on his way to get help, yes, but whom I would never again look out the back window and see lounging in our grass, or curled up in the garage. I knew it was selfish to think of what I would no longer experience, but it still hurt nonetheless. I felt as though we had given up one of our own boys.

Monster in GarageMeg, while just as sad, was, as always my rock, and pointed out that while I may not see you in the backyard, I no longer have to have my heart sink when you walk away to parts unknown.

The Humane Society says you’re doing well, and that some stitches will help heal your physical wounds. They also said how friendly you’ve been, calling you ‘very adoptable.’ I knew you would be and hope that, while it saddens me that our outside bonding in the yard and garage may be just a chapter in both our lives, that you will now be healthy enough to share all that love I know is in your little heart with a family that will give it back to you in return.

Farewell, my Monster. You’ve been a good friend. It may have taken us a little while to get to know each other, but in the end, we both showed the other our heart. Now, I hope that you will be able to receive all the love that you have to give to the rest of the world.

I’ll miss you, buddy.

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