It is time.
On October 1, we said goodbye to our gray cat Pepper, a constant presence in our lives since 1997. We'd had her for 11 years, her entire life, after getting her from our vet as a balm after the death of our previous (and first) cat, Clinton Gore.
Betty became the most attached to Pepper and has not taken her loss very well. It contributed to some issues throughout the entire school year. When drawing, she still includes a gray cat in her pictures. Just last week during a pottery class at camp, Betty made - you guessed it - a small gray cat with a pink heart. It sits, gazing at her during the night ("keeping me safe") on her night table. She's talking to a professional about all this.
And while the three of us were reading together the other night, Boo asked for the definition of heartbroken. I described it as the feeling you get when you think your heart might break or is broken. I said, "Like how we felt when Pepper died. We were heartbroken."
Betty immediately burst into tears. "I'm still heartbroken," she sobbed. "My heart will always be broken."
I'd been resistent to a new cat - until that very moment. My heart will always be broken. Holy crap. I'd have to have an ironclad, unbreakable heart to continue saying no to a cat after that.
It's been 11 months. It is time.
So Betty and I started spending some time each evening looking at picture after picture of cats and kittens on Petfinder.com, on the website of our local Humane Association, at rescue organizations within a 50 mile drive of our house. And then we came across this:
I'm a cute little black kitty with a white spot on my chest. I have beautiful eyes! I was thought to be a boy by the family that found me. They called me Douglas, but I fooled them because I'm a little GIRL! Hence DHA added the Mrs. to my name. I'm small but full grown. I'm active, friendly, playful and affectionate. I don't claw the furniture, I don't bite, and I don't climb the drapes. I'm telling you, I'M GREAT! I really enjoy playing with stuffed animals. I like children and have lived with other cats. I am just in need of affection and I REALLY want to be part of a family. Perhaps you can come and check me out and see how nice I am. Just ask to see MRS. Douglas! I'll probably be rubbing up against your legs...so look down when you come in!
We clicked on photo after photo of other cats, but kept coming back to Mrs. Douglas. Maybe it was the enthusiastic copy, but there was something about her. Had to be the name, the same as my beloved uncle, who died 13 years ago and who I will forever miss. And Mrs. Douglas' birthday is thought to be the day after my grandfather's, who recently passed away. Plus, we kind of have a history of adopting female cats with male-sounding names (witness Clinton Gore, who was a female cat but who came to our door as we were volunteering for the ' 92 Clinton-Gore campaign.)
Today, we took a trip to the Humane Association, visited with the kittens and cats, and inquired about Mrs. Douglas. The person helping us looked puzzled. "Mrs. Douglas? I don't know that one ... I guess she went to a new home."
Slightly dejected, we pulled out the list of other potential cats we'd researched. Another person came along, and she pulled the files on Rainbow, SUV, and the Momma Mia kitties.
And Mrs. Douglas, the first name on my list.
"She's still here?" we said hopefully. And off we went, again, back into the cat room, our helpful humane association friend scanning the microchips in the cats, and there on a windowsill, almost as if she was waiting for someone, we found Mrs. Douglas.
Betty jumped up and down. "It's Douglas!" she squealed.
We filled out the paperwork and made an appointment to come back tomorrow at 2. I caught a glance at Mrs. Douglas' file. As a 1.5 year old cat, she'd been at the shelter quite awhile ... almost exactly the length of time that we'd been without a pet.
It's been 11 months.
It is time.