I travelled quite a bit in a past life. I wrote about wine and food and travel. So I’d fly off for a week or so, visit wine regions and destination spots all around the world. Travelling first class. On someone else’s dime.
It was a horrible life.
When this all started, I had just been given my first two kitties, DJ and Blanche. Friends of mine had neglected to spay their cat! So leaving for a week or so every few months made me feel guilty. Well, at least that’s what I told DJ and Blanche. Luckily I was blessed with a landlord who loved them just as much as I did. So I knew they were in great hands while I was living the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The flight home was always the longest. I would think and DJ and Blanche throughout the flight, but there was a specific point, when approaching SFO, where I’d be looking out the window, and as we dropped closer and closer to the water (and hopefully the start of the runway), they would consume my mind. I just COULD NOT wait to see them. To hold them. It was always at that specific point. Not before. Not after. Something just clicked in my head and there they were.
Deplaning, walking through the terminal, getting my car, driving home… that, too, was always the longest two hours I encountered. When I finally made it home, and I saw my two babies waiting for me in front of my little guest house, my eyes would tear with joy. I loved them so much. So! Much!
DJ would always run up to me and want to be held for the first few hours. Blanche, being a female, would ignore me completely because she was SO mad that I left her to begin with. That lasted for about 24 hours. Then Blanche wouldn’t let me out of her sight for the next week.
So, this was the routine every time I travelled. And it went on for 10 years.
I gave up this horrible life when I decided to start a new life as a vet tech. Although I missed it, I got to spend a lot more time with my “kids”, which was so overdue. I would still travel now and then. But only domestically. And only for very short trips. Still, every time I flew into SFO, at that exact same point, I thought about DJ and Blanche. Just like I did years before. Same point. Same excitement to see them.
I lost Blanche a year after I became the Vet Tech at the (old) Healdsburg Shelter. Renal failure. She was almost 15. DJ stayed with me for a few more years, then passed due to cancer. When I found out that DJ had cancer, I knew that I couldn’t live without a cat in my life. So, I rescued White Shoes, an 8 year-old kitty who had had a horrible life up until that point. (This was the start of SNAP Cats.) He was megacolon, hyperthyroid, ears singed and nasal passages permanently scared from surviving house fires, locked alone in a room for two years, and extremely food aggressive. EXTREMELY food aggressive! (You can read about how I solved the food aggression issue here.) I wanted, so much, to give White Shoes a good home, where he’d feel safe. And loved. And appreciated. So White Shoes joined DJ and I a few months before DJ passed.
Then I rescued Simon, a semi-feral kitten with eyelid agenesis. I tamed him down, we fixed his eyelid agenesis, and Simon became a part of my family as well.
I didn’t do much travelling over the next few years. But I did drive into San Francisco often. And, I found that, just like when flying into SFO, there was a specific point on 101 North that I thought about DJ and Blanche. Not how much I wanted to see them. Rather, how much I missed them. Very, very much.
SNAP Cats had been established. We had about half a dozen kittens and cats. That Fall, we were invited to have a table at a Bay Area Pet event. It was exciting because SNAP Cats was a small, basically unknown rescue at that time, and the exposure would be great for us.
The first day was incredible. So many people. So many chances to talk about SNAP Cats. I brought a few of our paralyzed kittens down and had them on fake grass inside a large pen lined with 2 foot-high fence (like dog pen fencing). That way the kitties couldn’t escape. And the people could climb in and play with the kittens. Kids loved it. Parents loved it. The kittens LOVED it!
I loved it!
On the drive home after the first day, I reached that specific point on 101 North and started thinking about DJ and Blanche. And then…
I must preface this with… I didn’t hear voices. I don’t know what I heard. I don’t know what I thought I heard. Or what was going through my head. But I definitely felt or heard… something:
“Hi dad. It’s okay. You don’t have to worry about me or Blanche anymore. We’re fine. Really. You have two, wonderful boys at home now. Who love you. And need you. Think of them, dad. Think of White Shoes and Simon. Think of them every time you come here. To this point. Okay? We know you love us. That you will always love us. But it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on, dad. Think about White Shoes and Simon waiting for you at home. Okay?”
And so I did.
From that moment on. At that exact point. Every drive. Every flight. At that point I thought about White Shoes and Simon. My two boys. My two very, very special boys. How much I missed them. How much I loved them. How much I just couldn’t wait to see them.
I still think about DJ and Blanche a lot. They were my first kitties. My first real responsibility (other than myself). They’ll always be with me. Always a part of me. Always.
As will my all of my beautiful kitties.
The day after I published this story, we had to let White Shoes go. His health was declining, and I didn’t want him to suffer. He was the inspiration to get this story done. I knew his time was near, so I wanted to publish this while he was still with me.
I hope White Shoes knows how much I loved him. How much I needed him. How much he meant to me when DJ was sick.
I miss you, sweetheart. Wait for me. Please.