It's been a year since her funeral. Husband remembered, knowing I would forget, me the number challenged woman who can't mindlessly rattle off her wedding anniversary or her children's exact birth dates, weights, or time of birth.
I felt guilty anyway. I should have remembered the death of my first cat, Mia, the calico-Siamese mix who was my child through the years of infertility when husband and I couldn't have children.
This feline with the diesel engine purr was my companion during the lonely years when husband attended school by day and studied by night. Every night, she would come to the bath tub and drink the water I would intentionally let trickle down the sides. And every time I sat at the computer, she would sit at my feet until I picked her up for warm lap-time.
I thought she was irreplaceable. And what's more, when she died, I didn't want to replace her.
Yet, this week, I have realized the emptiness, that cavernous void I expected to follow me after her death has been filled. Why? It's no coincidence. Instead, it's one of those "God-Incidences" Jennifer @ Getting Down with Jesus has been talking about in community on her blog.
The God-incidence started this May, six months after Mia's death, when my father in law deposited a three week old grey kitten on my doorstep. Thrown away in a Wal-Mart bag, Micah needed to be fed with a syringe every two hours if he had a chance at survival. Eleven days we poured life into his too small body. It wasn't enough.
I was beyond crushed, told my husband to pass on the word to his father--no more strays. Period. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't doing this again.
My oldest son, Wyatt, had different ideas; he rejected the sadness and emptiness I wept into the sofa. By the following morning, he had decided we simply needed another kitten. Now. Faced with the persistence of a child on a mission, I began looking online at photos from local animal rescue shelters. By bedtime, I had fallen in love with an image of a tiny orange and white, long-haired fluffball named Hope.
Hope. Her name seemed to be God speaking.
The following morning, I called to make sure she was still available. Sure enough, she was and would be at PetsMart in an hour. The children and I hurriedly loaded up and drove forty minutes to the pet store. There she was in the cage with her two other siblings. We watched them play together. Precious. Perfect. Amelia said she loved her. It was a "yes."
When the worker finally greeted me, I nodded at the cage. "We want the long-haired one."
He frowned, then pointed to a lady and her husband sitting beside him. They were in the process of filling out the adoption papers for that very cat. We were literally ten minutes too late.
My heart fell in disappointment. There were no other kittens there that said "adopt me," but the worker suggested I drive down the street to PetCo where there were more waiting for a home. As I broke the bad news that "our" kitten had already been adopted, the children began to complain. I told the children God had said "no," but that we would look at this other store. No promises.
As soon as I walked through the door, I saw the calico. At ten weeks, she was older than the other kittens, composed and still while the other younger ones rolled and played. When I held her in my arms, her motor roared to life, not quite a diesel but pretty loud. It was like looking at a mirror image of Mia.
Taped to her cage was her history: "I went through baling equipment at a recycling center and then [was] discovered." Much like Abraham's wife who couldn't contain her laughter at Isaac's birth, mine erupted in audible joy as well. As a woman who lives on a farm that bales thousands of square hay bales each year, I knew only God could send me a cat who had been literally "baled" up.
This was God.
We decided to call her Hannah, a name that means grace.Six months later, I am constantly amazed at how similar Hannah is to her predecessor. Her ever-rumbling motor, her love for bath tub water, her insistence that my chest is the best place to sit each evening--she's a younger version of the cat God sent to comfort me in the early years of marriage, now here to comfort me during those trying days of raising young children.
To know that my God cares enough about me to supernaturally arrange the cosmos for something as simple and silly as a pet adoption--it's mind blowing.
But there's too many "if X didn't happen then Y" coincidences to believe differently. It's a God-incidence.
Photos: Mia and her brother, Ming, back in 2002.
Mia knocking her toys downstairs (her favorite game)
Hannah and her adoption papers