From One Moment to the Next
Commentary: We gave in to our children's continued requests for a cat. When we walked into the adoption center, it was all over. A first batch of kittens was a no-go when their little needle-like claws got stuck on the kids' skin. The kids deflated as they pried the adorable mewing floofs off.
The employee suggested the cat room. One friendly little male cat "sold himself well," as my husband said. He's gregarious, playful, and smart; he went right toward the kids and my husband. The kids were over the moon when we walked out with him.
My daughter in particular craved a pet cat. When we'd walk the neighborhood, she knew which houses had cats. One house a few doors down had a very friendly black one that would trot toward her for love. The cat was unfazed by my dog. My dog? Decidedly fazed by the cat.
My daughter would take a minute to pet the cat. She'd stare at it while petting and then look up at me, her expressions flickering between longing and questioning. Dog in tow, I'd walk by and give her time.
Thing is, I love cats. We even used to have one. He came before my kids, a gray ball of adolescent fluff that reached out to grab my shirt when I walked by his cage at the shelter. In just a few years, he grew sick. I was a new mom to a human by then, in a new house, with a puppy. There were a lot of things happening, and he got lost in the shuffle.
I have a lot of regret with him — that I could have caught his sickness earlier, that I could have saved him. I've tried to put the memories of him away, high on a shelf, much like his small urn.
My daughter was fascinated with the stories of that cat she couldn't remember. She'd ask for more stories about him, and I'd just say that he was a cat that did things cats do.
My first cat changed me. I wasn't sure I was ready to have another one, to change our routine and bring a partisan animal divide into our peaceful house, as my dog is pretty set in her only-pet ways.
However, my life can be described as nothing but a flow, where I navigate around jutting rocks of impulsivity, like the decision to adopt a cat. It seems like my life is constantly shaken by something that pulls at the roots of stagnation, either my saying yes to things others don't or the machinations of the universe — all of which usually manifests through my husband but now more so through my children.
Two days after the adoption, my mom and I sat in the living room watching TV with the kids. I caught her looking at the cat. It was lying against my daughter's leg; she continued to pet him, and his eyes were fused closed in glee. The dog was peacefully lying nearby. "Things can change so quickly, can't they?" I said. She nodded and said, "They do."
One moment, we didn't have a cat; then, we did. One moment, we didn't have a pandemic; then, we did.
The stories about my fluffy cat, who was more like a dog and who still sat in my heart, had spurred on my daughter's request to bring more love into our world. It felt better to listen to her need for more stories, and more love.
I want to learn from my daughter's persistence, just like I want to learn from this past year. I want to learn so that when we start to take off our masks, we will remember what it meant to live through a sad and maddening time. We have shared stories, some still hidden away, that can teach us that, even in the midst of bad times and sad memories, we can always make the impulsive choice to bring more love into our lives.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She is also the Executive Director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.