A year and a half ago, in August, we were on our way to Rochester to spend a day school shopping. Coming down a hill outside of town, a few miles from home, I spotted a little lump in the middle of the road. I pulled over because I thought I saw it move, only to discover it was a tiny, tiny kitten. It was literally curled up on the center line, and had I not pulled over and picked it up, the next car coming along behind me, would have run over it, I'm sure. It was sickly - sneezing, runny eyes, coughing. Of course it would be my luck to not only be the one to find another cat (I had 6 already at that point, most of them rescued) but to have it be sick. So many people have just laughed, shaken their heads, said "I wouldn't have picked it up; I would have left it there." Well, unfortunately, or fortunately, I guess, that is so not me. I don't WANT to have, to feed, to pay vet bills on, to take care of, 7 cats. But I also CAN"T leave it laying there, facing certain impending death, or worse, set it off to the side of the road and drive away, either,knowing, or wondering, did it crawl back out and get run over later? Did a wandering dog shake it to death, or a coyote eat it? Nor could I drive back home with it, nor take it shopping. So, I dropped it off at my dad's and asked him to just let it stay there while we went shopping, and I'd pick it up on the way home. And that is how we came to have our 7th cat, Gracie. I don't even know WHY we named her Grace. Certainly, we had a million other names we all liked, and tried out, but in the end, Grace stuck. And she was full of it. She became everyone's favorite cat. There are 6 people in my family, and with 7 cats, everyone has his or her favorite cat ( except one, Katie, who is NO one's favorite cat, but that's another story for another day) but Gracie became the favorite favorite, of EVERYONE. She snuggled, she purred, she licked kisses graciously and daintily on your cheek. And at night, she would curl up under your chin, stretch out her front legs and paws as long as she could stretch them, wrap them around your neck or pat your chin with them, lick you until you couldn't stand it any longer, and then purr herself, and you, to sleep. For some reason, she quit doing that to everyone but my youngest daughter. She slept with her EVERY night, and I was so jealous. Not so much my husband, as he didn't necessarily love being poked and prodded and sniffed and licked in the middle of the night, but I always loved it and always felt lucky when she would snuggle down with me. If my daughter was gone one night, she would sleep in there on her pillow anyway, alone, but if she were gone two nights, or more, by the second night, Grace would come looking for company, usually mine. I was always glad for it, since I didn't get much snuggling time anymore, and loved being purred back to sleep, much like I like thunderstorms or wind or anything in nature to lull me back into sleepy oblivion. I can't explain why I loved it so much. Maybe because animals, cats especially, don't always bestow you with lots of affection. I know they love and adore me, but I always feel like I love my animals more than they might love me. I know I often drive them crazy with my need to pet them, hug them, kiss them. I guess it's just good to have it returned? I don't know. I do know everyone loved Gracie and everyone felt like it was total karma that we rescued her, and in return, were granted the best, most affectionate, silly, loving cat out of all that we have. She was a sweetheart, though and through.
Two weeks ago, on a Saturday night, she was crossing the street in front of our house - we live in a small town, on a side street - not a busy main road - and some kid in a jeep with big tires who frequently feels it necessary, as only 17 year old boys do, to drive fast and recklessly, ran her over. It could have been avoided. Should have been avoided. My girls found her literally seconds after it happened. She was still warm when my husband picked her up gently from the street, and laid her in the grass, the laid her, gently again, in a box I went and got. I put my hand on her still warm fur and felt sad, and hollow and lonely without her. But I also felt blessed to have had her in my life for a year and a half. The kids said, "What was the point of saving her from being run over a year and a half ago, if she was only going to die that way tonight anyway?" I don't know. I guess the point is, we gave her a year and a half of love she might not have had? That she filled our home, our nights, our hearts with love that we wouldn't have had if we had left her there? That we aren't the kind of people who COULD leave a kitten laying in the road, nor can we predict the future? That we did the right thing, and sometimes, doing the right thing hurts. Sometimes, love hurts. But it's still the right thing. Love is always the right thing.