This is a story of love found, love lost, found again, lost briefly, but, in the end those who loved came together to be with one another forever.
When my beloved Sharkey died in April of 2011, I vowed I would let my remaining kitties live out the rest of their lives and not replace any of them until they all were no more. About a week after Sharkey’s demise I walked downtown through a residential area south of the campus and passed a student rental; a little, white, gingerbread Victorian home that has neon beer signs perpetually decorating the windows. As I walked by, the ill-kept bushes in front of the porch rustled and a small, dark shape rocketed across the narrow yard and wrapped itself around my ankles.
Of course, it was a cat, but—oh, my God!—what a condition she was in! I could tell before I even touched her that she was in terrible shape. Whatever her physical problems, she didn’t seem to be in any emotional distress. She was grinning up at me as if she’d found the Mother Lode (and in the end, she had), purring so loudly that passersby on the other side of the street probably heard her. When I did begin to pet her, her hipbones jutted out sharply and I could feel each and every one of her ribs. Her fur was jet black around her beautiful face, but on her body it was rust red. She was, clearly, close to total starvation.
To say I was in a quandary would be an understatement. I couldn’t take her with me. I didn’t know for sure if she was a stray. She was sweet and friendly and, seemingly, so happy. I decided I’d get her some food that evening to help her through her the night, and talk to whoever lived in the Victorian jewel box later.
There’s no tactful way to tell to someone, “Your kitty’s starving to death.” The girls living in the house were coldly civil, but I could tell by their expressions what was on their minds was, “Interfering old bat!” They protested that they did feed “Smokey,” and that, no, I couldn’t adopt her; she was too attached to their other cat, an obese, snotty pastel calico. “Yeah, sure!” I thought. Grudgingly, they allowed me to bring over extra snacks. I found out later that “Smokey” did, indeed, attach herself readily to other cats. I fervently hoped at the end of the semester they’d abandon her.
At the end of the semester the girls and “Smokey” vanished. I then hoped that wherever she was, she was being better taken care of than she had been before. I walked by the house where I met her, but there was never any sign of her there. Fast forward to the middle of July that same year.
Walking past another old house, this one on Cherry Street, I couldn’t help notice there was raucous birthday party going on inside. Through the open door I could hear someone drunkenly droning, “Happy birrrrthday to yooooo…,” over and over again. Besides, chalked on the sidewalk and the walk up to the porch were things like, “#*&@#! Birthday Here!” Glancing from the walk to the porch I saw a sofa and, on the sofa’s back, a little black cat. She was wrapped around my ankles in two seconds.
A bored voice came from within, “Ya’ want ‘er? She’s just been hangin’ around here.” One thing I noticed immediately was that she was in much better shape than the first time I’d seen her. She was plump and her fur was jet black all over. I said I’d be back later. Providentially I then met my friend, Anna, who, even though she had her lovely doggie, Osa, with her, said she’d give me and my new four-footed roommate a ride home. As I settled into the passenger seat I burbled that I was going to name my new kitty Nyx after the Ancient Greek goddess of the night and sleep.
When Nyx got in she let us know she was not pleased at the presence of Osa. She kept trying to get out of the very rolled up windows. By the time we got back to my apartment Nyx was in extreme emotional meltdown and the worst was yet to come. As I got out of the car my neighbor’s very noisy puppy woofed us a booming welcome which was just too much for Nyx. She struggled out of my arms, roared across the street in front of an oncoming car and disappeared into the berry bushes in the backyard of the big, yellow house on the other side.
That night I had I a dream. It was probably was a premonition that I’d find her again eventually. I dreamed that it rained so much we had a flash flood and I took to the swollen river of my street in canoe. As I paddled along looking for Nyx she soon paddled up beside me. She was grinning like she’d found her treasure again and I was at peace. A week later I went out in my yard for no particular purpose at 7:00 in the morning, and there she was, slinking along in front of the white picket fence around the yard of the big, yellow house looking for something to eat.
She was thin again, her lovely fur was matted and she’d evidently lost a fight—she had a sore on the inside of one of her back legs, but we were together at last. I combed her fur, the wound healed quickly and she was soon plump. She’s still with me, healthy and playful. It’s weird and so difficult to explain, but Nyx radiates such happiness, she makes me happy just looking at her.