It all started when he turned eight. My hubby decided (without consulting me first!) that our oldest was old enough to get a pet. I'm not sure how the conversation started between them, but it was a rather unplanned and rash decision. All I know is that it was Sam's birthday and they were running errands. Upon their return, they had an extra body - an adorable black kitten. Rascal was his name.
Rascal became a part of our family. He also turned into a fierce warrior. I apologize if this offends any of you, but he was a lean, mean killing machine. He would bring home "presents" almost daily. Most of the time they were mice, but once he even brought home a jack rabbit! Yes, you read that right - a rabbit! I still have no idea how he managed to get it up? over? through? our fenced backyard.
Fast-forward three years to the middle guy's eighth birthday and now it's his turn to get a kitty. Being good dutiful parents, we schlep everyone down to the local rescue foundation and Danny picked out his new friend - Tucker. Before we brought Tucker home, we did the research on introductions and socialization between cats. I followed the rules and did everything just the way they said. Rascal was not happy. There was no acceptance. One day I opened the door to let him in, he paused just at the threshold, took a few sniffs and high-tailed it right out of there. That was the last time we ever saw Rascal.
After weeks of searching the neighborhood and countless trips to the animal shelter, we all came to understand, if not accept, that Rascal was never coming home. In our last and final trip to the shelter, I asked Sam if he wanted to get another cat, and he did. That day we brought home Daisy. Daisy was a two-year-old tabby and she was delightfully sweet, the perfect lap cat. And she provided comfort in a time of need, and we all were thankful for that.
About six months after getting Daisy, I noticed that she looked thin. I dismissed it at first thinking that it was just because summer had arrived and she was losing a bunch of hair. I kept a close watch and eventually I knew something was wrong, and so we took a trip to the vet. Several tests and several hundreds of dollars later, Daisy was diagnosed with an incurable disease. She was gone in a few months, just over a year from her arrival. Sam was crushed.
It was one of the worst experiences. I, of course, had my own grief. Daisy took her last breaths in my arms. But, to see my son's broken heart, that was worse. I was powerless to help; powerless to provide true comfort. I knew this was something only he could work through and only with time. He proclaimed that he would never get another pet again, and that made me sad to think that he had shut down his heart to the possibility of experiencing new love over fear of loss. I told him that was fine, I understood, but if he changed his mind, I would take him down to find another.
It was last month when he announced that he was ready and wanted to get another cat. For several weekends we drove all over the place visiting shelters and rescue foundations. He wanted a tabby, but we simply couldn't find one. On Saturday, he eventually relaxed his criteria and settled on a lovey, female dark gray kitten. We couldn't bring her home on Saturday because they still needed to spay her, so yesterday was pick-up day. She's home and her name is Jade.
I am excited and I am happy. I am excited to have a new kitten in the family. I am happy because my dear boy has finally worked through his grief and is learning to open up and love again. It is one of life's most important lessons and it is something I could not teach, but he has learned on his own.