The news has been so overwhelmingly bad lately that I struggle to get the words right as I lay them out on this piece of paper. That our community has experienced a tragedy in the death of a woman at the hands of a law enforcement officer takes my breath away. The fact that we may never really know what happened makes it hard for me to breathe; however, I will keep my mouth closed – and my fingers still – about it until all evidence is in. I hope the family will find justice as they search for answers.

Because our hearts are heavy, I’m going to tell you about something that might bring a smile to your face: We have a cat.

As you know, Max and I are dog people. My mother said I had a cat, Cleopatra, when I was little, but I have no memory of her whatsoever. I remember instead my family collecting innumerable dogs of all shapes and sizes, starting with Hildegarde, the Devil Dog, and ending with Puppy, so called because my mother had exhausted her list of clever names.

Max’s family pets were also always dogs. Unlike my family, though, instead of having multiple dogs at once, they had pets more traditionally – one at a time. Where we generally collected strays, Max’s family had more easily recognizable breeds, and when we were married, Max had a pekapoo named Pepsi, the best dog ever.

After Pepsi sadly “crossed the rainbow bridge,” I swore there would be no more dogs. But then, we gave Fluffy to Emily, and Fluffy stayed with us for 15 years, until Emily was grown and out of college. After that, I swore there would be no more dogs. 

Our house, then, has remained pet-free for eight years, and I had gotten used to not having the responsibilities that come with having a dog.

Emily, however, was aching for another dog. I convinced her that her schedule would prevent her from spending time with a dog and giving it the attention it deserved. Still, she brought up the subject fairly regularly – until, however, she found a little black kitten curled up off a busy intersection in Little Rock. She called Max and me to tell us about it, and we warned her not to pick it up (too late), not to take it home (too late), and not to name it. An hour later, we saw the Facebook post: “Meet Hue Kilter Mitchell!” The kitten had, you see, no “hue,” and its tail was off “kilter” (we later discovered that Hue is a Manx and therefore tail-less).

Hue and Emily became fast friends, if one can become fast friends with an indifferent, persnickety cat. Over the next five years, they developed a nice little routine: Hue waiting on the drawing table for Emily to get home from work, Emily brushing Hue every day as they watched television – they both were happy.

But Emily was also developing something else: allergies. Her allergies had been diagnosed years earlier, but they were worsening, so she finally went to an allergist. She started getting allergy shots that were, along with her medications, to stop all her symptoms, and they seem to be working.

But not with the cat.

And so we heard the startling words directly from Emily’s mouth: “I hope you will want to be Hue’s parents.”

And now we are. For the first day or so, she wouldn’t come out from under the bed except at night. She ate her food and used the litter box and skedaddled back under the bed. Now, she has graduated to coming out during the day, and even being so bold as to walk up to me and stare at my face as I sleep (as reported by Max, who was awake). She has even told me when it’s time to eat.

Yes, we have a cat. It doesn’t feel quite right yet, but something tells me that Hue will soon be part of the family, and we will love her as we loved our other pets. And it’s great not to get up early to let out the cat. Maybe having a cat has benefits.

 

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