I didn't feel like preparing a Meowy Monday considering the things that has happened, like it would somehow be as if ignoring Snuttis and pretending everything is normal, business as usual. But then yesterday night and this morning, I began thinking of a story that I wanted to share. This is for my not losing the hope and for those of you who are also have a lost beloved pet. It's another wordy post, I'm afraid.
In a little nook in my heart is hope, the hope than suddenly Snuttis will just walk through the door, happy and unharmed. Wishful thinking some would say, but that image of Snuttis that you can find in that place in my heart and my head is based on other cats we've had or still have. I remember Herki who was gone for six months. In November, the day the first snow of the season fell, he came home. He walked down the entrance, perhaps a little thinner but very much just like he used to be. I was so sure I'd never see him again, but on that day, which I remember only as painted in grey with tiny white snowflakes falling, he came back. Eventually, he gave us a happy end to the story.
But most of all, the image I see is moulded on what happened to Randa, the cat in the photo. This happened in October 2007. (Before I blogged, but when active on a swedish bead forum where you can still read my thoughts and feelings, day by day, from the first dispair to the joy when she returned.) It was a Saturday and my family plus a friend of my sister's where spending the day at the shopping mall Väla. We came home in the afternoon and noticed on the caller id display that our neighbour had tried to reach us. More than once on a time that was unusual for her to call. We were unloading and preparing dinner as we all where starving. I went out to get something from the other building when the neighbours happened to be driving by. They stopped, turned into the driveway, got out and asked "Is Randa home?"
You don't want your neighbour to ask you if all your cats are home. As we had just gotten home, I hadn't seen all the outdoor cats yet. Randa was one of those cats not currently in the yard. I got a bad feeling.
The neighbours told how a man earlier in the day had knocked on their son's door -- he too is a neighbour of ours -- telling that he had accidentally hit a cat with his car just down where the road made a slight turn (I've seen Randa there before so in my head I pinpointed the exact spot). Worried, my neighbour and former class mate thought it was his little one that had been hit, but when going to the spot where the driver had been, he saw a striped cat limping away. It was not his. He tried to catch her, but she quickly disappeared into the at the time uninhabited farm by the road (yes, what's now the museum). He didn't want to continue tracking her as he feared he was just scaring her further away. As Randa often hunted and played around that place, he had often seen her and was convinced the injured cat was our Randa. We weren't home, but he told his mum, who has a close contact with my mum. And so she good then, hours later, relay the story to us.
Letting my sis stay with our guest, I went down to the farm to look, tears streaming down my face and almost unable to call for her as my voice cracked. No luck. My dad joined me. Knowing the place better than me, he knew many of the nooks and crannies, the holes and hiding places. But nothing. Maybe she had been strong enough to go home, but when she got her, there was no one here to take care of her or even let her indoors. So instead she had to find a sheltered place to hide. That worried me, knowing how cats can choose to hide and not make themselves noticed in order to heal injuries -- or die.
At Sunday night I was worried and more or less mourning. The previous night had been cold. I was still hoping she would appear, injured and in pain, but alive. At the same time my brain told me that she probably had died, either directly from the injuries or from the cold and shock. As Snuttis, she hadn't eaten that much on the day she disappeared, which had me so worried. If she was injured, she wouldn't be able to hunt for food. I also knew that if she was too weak to call out -- or dead -- when we came looking, we could walk just right passed. Be a few centimetres from her without ever knowing. There are so many places to hide or be hidden around here. The chances of her being alive, cooped up somewhere recovering enough to walk home, or that someone else had found her felt tiny.
Not knowing was the worst part, but also the thought that if we hadn't been away when it happened, we could've got to her immediately. And the nagging feeling that it also was our fault for not letting her stay indoors when we left. The kittens aren't allowed to be outdoors when we aren't home, never have been. But the adult cats are if they want to. And Randa loved to be outdoors, hunting and playing, often being away all night and then come back before daybreak, standing under the window meowing loudly for us to let her in. First urgently and demaning, then complaining until someone opened the door.
To make matters worse, her brother had been killed in a hit-and-run the year before. Those memories were still fresh. The phone call (from yet another neighbour). The blood on the road. Seeing Vitis with his head bloody and fractured, his eyes frozen in fear. Saying my goodbyes. Burying him.
So my hope was dwindling at the end of the weekend. And I was so upset with myself for not having been home. She could've been in bed, recovering, and instead she was disappeared, dead or alive.
On Monday I mourned, but still tried to keep some of the hope alive. But I doubt I truely believed in a happy end at this point. And the feeling of unfairness started to mount. She was two years old, vibrant, full of life. She was playful and cuddly. She had a kitten she loved to play with -- a kitten that couldn't comprehend what was happening, a kitten that was beyond himself. Her being dead or severly injured felt so horribly unfair. And worst part was knowing she was alive after the accident. We were having fun when she was in agony. I hadn't even gone as I wanted to shop much, I just went because of the company and the fact I didn't get many chances to go to a mall. I had to work that day and tried to push all feeling ahead of me, but when writing an update on the forum in the evening, it all came back. I was crying so hard.
And then, on Tuesday...
My sis spotted her. It looked like she had walked up to the house, but not seeing anyone had begun to turn back again. She probably had done the same thing on Saturday. My sis saw her in the last minute, spotting a familiar tail and a limping paw. When my sis came, she turned around.
I was happy, elated that she was home. I was heartbroken, seeing her agony and weakness. She was fatigued, being injured and probably not having had anything to eat. The injuries were confined to the hind leg and lower back, but nothing was broken. We gave her lots of food, which she wolfed down, and made a bed for here in the bead room, which is normally off limits, but the one place she could have some calm away from the other cats. She neede a lot of rest. But the signs were good: she had an appetite, she showed some energy and curiosity about the world around here. Injured, but her old self. And now I knew for sure: we had an injured Randa, but not a dead or dying Randa.
Would you believe that I, on the night between Sunday and Monday, actually had dreamt about her coming home, limping? Of cause it was my hope, an image I'd already shaped inside me, that I dreamt of, but on Tuesday it still felt like the sign I'd kept repeating to her that I wanted to see. "Just give me a sign." But at the end of that day, I was sad and exhausted and convinced she was dead. On one hand, I'd had so many cats dying during the years, but also had cats reappearing weeks after and accident. One the other hand, the death of Vitis had left me a pessimist.
But she came home. She recovered 99,99 %. She's still alive and well. She was lucky. We were lucky.
So no matter what happens, there's always hope. Even when it doesn't look like it. Life is unfair, but the odds can be beaten. Those who are injured can heal. Those who are lost can be found. Thoses believed to be dead can be alive. Even when our rational mind tells us the odds are slim, the heart won't let go of that last shed of hope -- and sometimes the heart is right.
I'm still hoping. Desperately so as the thought of her in pain or dispair is so horrible. Evering but a happy end unthinkably horrible. Fearing the worst, believing the worst, but still hoping. I have experienced the unhappy ends. I have experienced the happy ends.
I cry, but I hope.