Have you ever met someone when you least expected it? And not only did you meet them when you least expected it, but they ended up being one of the greatest influences in your life?
I have. Many of them, actually, but the one who surprised me the most was an animal.
A black cat.
16 years ago after graduating college I was working at LSU’s veterinary teaching school. One fateful day I happened to walk up to the front desk to receive a drop off. We often received a lot of injured wildlife, but this animal was an injured and exhausted young black kitten.
We had “no room at the inn”, but the staff agreed to hydrate and treat him if one of us could take him home temporarily. I immediately declined; I really was not a huge fan of cats. Plus, I was currently searching for our M.I.A. pit bull, Daisy. – She would have certainly thought this wee kitten was an offering to her! I couldn’t take the chance.
Taking this kitten home was not an option. Period. No way. No how. Never. Not me.
I took the kitten from the woman’s hands, and held him on my left arm. Looking back now, I realize that I was uncomfortable holding him near me. But before I knew it, this injured and dehydrated kitten was curled up in the crook of my bent arm, fast asleep. My arm ached terribly, but for some reason I didn’t want to wake him. (Note: This was the start of him training me!)
My colleagues and the woman who found the kitten continued to pressure me into taking him “for just one night!” The woman who brought him in offered to pick him up promptly the next day after work, “I promise! I’ll get him tomorrow. I just have to get to work. I’m so late!” I very reluctantly agreed. I told her, “One night. That’s it. If I find my dog the cat cannot be at my apartment.”
I never heard from this woman again.
The next day began the beginning of the rest of my life with Mr. Beaux.
16 incredible years have gone by and he’s still with me. During this time together he never ceases to amaze me. We have been through more together than any animal or person I know. We have survived countless moves, missing-in-action-adventures, misunderstandings and musings. We’ve endured countless Hurrications, heartbreaks, ghost sightings and hauntings. We have experienced the passing of loved ones, an engagement and wedding, deployments and homecomings, health and sickness, and everything between.
He’s seen me at my absolute worst, on my darkest days. He has watched me bloom in my brightest hours. He has taught countless children and adults what cats are capable of. He’s watched me learn how to let down my barriers to love, thanks to his persistent ability to love unconditionally. He’s taught me how to really listen to animals, how to listen more than speak, how to hear my inner guidance, and how to be the teacher and always the humble student. He’s taught me how truly magnificent and magical cats truly are.
Beaux has taught me more in our 16 years together than any species I’ve ever known. I have learned more from Beaux about life, love, and cats than I ever thought possible. Who knew that a melanistic Siamese could teach a person so much?? I sure didn’t. After all, he was “just a cat”.
I am still learning from him, including how to be a better guardian to him every day.
Thank you, Beaux, for being one of my greatest teachers in life. I am so looking forward to more adventures with you, more magic and wonder, more love and learning, and to continue celebrating the amazing soul that you are. Happy blessed 16th birthday to you, Beaux!!!
P.S. I know that 16 ain’t no thang to you (even if it is equivalent to 80 human years!) But as you so perfectly proclaimed, “I am young and vibrant!”
Damn right you are.
And may that always be so. Cheers to another 16 years together. Namaste, my feline friend.
“Cats are good; half in, half out anyway.” – John Constantine
This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. ― Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat