If I wrote this post just four days ago, it would be about the joy and challenges of welcoming a new furry member into our family. We adopted Aoba from a dog rescue organization on September 16th, just before she turned 3 months old. Having a puppy in the house has been a challenge, but mostly it has been the joy of having a pet who loves you even more than you love them.
But three nights ago, the narrative of this post changed in a way that fills me with sorrow. Chiizu, one of the feral cats living in our neighborhood, was struck and killed. Chiizu was no ordinary feral cat to us. He adopted us as his family, basking in the sun on our doorstep, greeting us in the morning and evening for his meals, eating from our hands. I was convinced it was a matter of weeks before I would have enough of his trust that he would allow me to finally pet him, giving him the physical love that he deserved.
You see, Chiizu was the largest boy in his litter of kittens. Their father was never around and their mother disappeared mysteriously four months ago. Chiizu, for whatever reason, became the caretaker of his siblings. We would often find him cuddled up with one of his sisters, or his little brother Pika, napping around our house. If he was eating and one of his siblings came near, he’d move away and let them eat. While many of the other cats visited our house regularly, it was always “Chiizu and …”. So for six months I regarded him as ours, the same way he regarded us as his.
One of the reasons I resisted pet ownership for so long after our dog Evie passed in 2012 at 14-years-old was because I did not like to deal with the mortality issue of pets. Every time I’ve lost a pet to the inevitable passage of time, I swore I’d never have another. But this is the first time I’ve had to deal with the loss of a pet whose life was cut short.
The loss of Chiizu is still fresh, grating on my emotions, and causing me to give pause during the day to think about the hole his absence leaves in my daily life. But that loss is balanced by the time we spend with Aoba, so young and full of life herself, ready to lick me to death or snuggle up when she’s tired at the end of a long day of playing and exploring. And I feel like God is teaching me about mortality, about not holding on too tightly to things, even life itself. That the cliche that everyday is a gift is cliche because it is true. Aoba won’t live forever and neither will I (at least in this space and time). But God gives us each day richly to enjoy and if we focus on the good gifts He gives us, life is a lot easier to bear. One might even say, life is beautiful when enjoyed the way God intended us to.
Thank you Lord for each of the days we had to enjoy with Chiizu and each special day we have to love and be loved by Aoba.