Thursday, August 14, 2014

Miracle, an excerpt from Rescue Me - Animal Anthology

                  I will always remember the day I saw him. I lived in an apartment and as long as I had lived there I had seen a beautiful feral cat that roamed the grounds of the complex. I wanted to adopt her but my current four cats weren’t open to a new family member and she seemed very unhappy being held captive inside. I fed her whenever I could along with occasionally petting her when she would come near. She had lovely markings but the way her short fur and tight skin was pulled across her face she looked like a pretty version of Smigel from Lord of the Rings.
            A few months after I moved in she came to my door with a kitten in tow. I leaned down to pet her but she backed away defending her baby fiercely. I put out a dish of food and milk for them then stepped aside letting them eat in peace. They were very close for the next year. You would rarely see one without the other watching from a nearby balcony or set of stairs. I named the baby Smidge to keep like her mother. I attempted to adopt them a few more times but while Smigel came close to settling down inside twice Smidge was barely willing to come through the door so staying wasn’t an option. Either way I was in love with them so I happily fed them and sat outside on the porch to pet Smigel when she decided to let me.
            I had been living there approximately a year and a half when I noticed I hadn’t seen Smigel or Smidge around for a couple weeks. I was worried that something had happened to them. I was also holding out hope that perhaps someone without additional animals might have been able to coax them into a permanent home. Every time I would come home from the store or return from work I would look for them but they had vanished. It was odd that even though they weren’t mine I cared about them so much.
            Just as I had given up seeing them again I came home one day from work and there they were. Sitting in front of the patio of the apartment below mine Smigel sat proudly watching me as I walked by. There lying next to her in the grass was Smidge surrounded by four itty bitty kittens. They were just the most adorable little balls of fluff and fuzz. I knew they were bound to be just as skittish as Smidge had always been but I tried to approach them anyway. As I suspected they scattered immediately.
            I started to head up the stairs to my apartment when I happened to glance back where the family had been gathered. There lying in the dirt was a kitten that wasn’t moving. I hadn’t even noticed him in the beginning because he was half the size of the others. My heart broke instantly because I know that feral animals will abandon their offspring if they believe they are too weak to survive. I was looking at the lifeless body of this sad abandoned kitten feeling the tears rush down my cheeks.
            All of a sudden I saw its head turn the slightest bit. He was alive. I jumped back down the stairs and lightly touched his side with my finger. I could make out a faint heart beat and he was breathing but not well. I ran to my kitchen grabbing a paper plate so I could lift him but keep him steady. I took him into the apartment but I was presented with a problem as I looked around. I had four full grown territorial cats. They were already taking interest in the smell of this poor soul and I knew he was going to struggle regardless; I couldn’t make him face them as well.
            The bathroom seemed like the safest spot so I placed some towels in the tub and placed him on one of them hoping he would stay warm. I got a regular dish and put some milk in it hoping he might be able to go get it sometime during the night. I also knew there was a very strong chance he wouldn’t make it through the night at all. Still I knew I had to try. I stayed with him for almost an hour before I finally went to bed hoping to get some rest.
            I tossed and turned all night long. I couldn’t help but fear the worst and by the time the sun came up I was convinced I would find him gone already. I turned the handle slowly keeping the older cats at bay as I inched my way into the bathroom. As I peered over the edge of the tub I was shocked. He was still alive. He was weak, curled up on the towel but he was definitely breathing. He also felt warmer then when I had brought him in.
            I picked him up and dipped my pinky into the milk holding it near him mouth and he opened his tiny mouth and took it. He couldn’t take a second drop but he had had some nourishment. That was more than enough for me. I put him down and ran to tell my boyfriend that he had survived the night. I was bouncing giddily by the time I came back. Rubbing sleep from his eyes he confirmed that the kitten was in fact alive and agreed with me that we should name him Miracle.
            I was scheduled to work that day and so was he. The thought of leaving poor little Miracle alone was something I just couldn’t do. He had no choice but to go in so I called into work. I felt I had to stay home so that I could try to feed him some more milk and keep him company. I made myself some breakfast and fed the crazy kitties now pacing around the living room. Once he left and I was able to grab some snacks and a few bottles of water I went into the bedroom and set up everything on the bed. I set the dish of milk on my nightstand and lay back against the pillows holding Miracle.
            He seemed to be struggling again and I decided to try a trick I had learned for human babies. I took my shirt off in order to hold him on my chest close to my heart. He could feel the heat from my skin and the way my heart was beating. Just as I had hoped he started to recover again. He snuggled down against me and for a few brief minutes I could feel his weak little body vibrate from purring. I felt the tears coming back as I lightly stroked his head.
            Every hour or so I would dip my finger into the milk and attempt to feed him. Most of the time he would take it but the last time he just lowered his head.  I knew what was coming. He started to purr again but it only lasted for a moment. He turned his head to the side closing his eyes. I petted his head holding him as close as I could. There on my chest knowing at least twenty four hours of love my tiny Miracle died.
            I held him and cried for a while losing track of time. I called my boyfriend to let him know and he promised he would come straight home after work to be with me. I wrapped Miracle up before heading out into the living room. I kept the door closed but my other cats no longer were interested in Miracle, they could sense I needed comforting. I sat in my recliner and cuddled up with them telling myself I had done all I could and he had been loved before he passed away.

            That night we took is little body out to Red Rock Canyon and buried him. I wanted him to be surrounded by beauty. I said I short prayer for him and kissed his head before placing in the ground. I believe he is running free now, healthy and happy. I hope he knows how much he was loved and knows that my short time with him has touched me forever. I love you Miracle. Someday I will see you again.

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