Their calico cat taught them about the importance of having faith that Easter morning.
- Posted on Apr 15, 2019
Of all the wild cats that had roamed our farm in the shadows of the Rockies, one in particular stole our hearts. The little calico cat meowed at us while we did chores. When our 12-year-old daughter, Kristi, scratched her ears one morning, the kitty purred ardently. “Her name will be Pancake,” Kristi announced, remembering what she’d just had for breakfast.
The friendly cat often followed Kristi around that long Colorado winter. When at last the earth burst forth with new life, it seemed only right that Pancake gave new life too, a lively litter of healthy kittens. We put them in a box in a warm corner of the basement near the furnace. I’d never seen Kristi so excited. She knelt beside the box watching Pancake nurse the tiny wriggling creatures.
One day during Holy Week Kristi came running. “Mommy, something’s the matter with Pancake.” Sure enough, Pancake was stretched out on the floor beside the box, her kittens wailing.
I took Pancake to the vet. “She’s got internal damage, probably from an injury before she came to live with you,” the vet said. “Having kittens just made it worse.”
Kristi and I used an eyedropper to feed the kittens. “Your mama will be home from the vet soon, kitties,” Kristi promised them. “God will make her all better.”
The vet wasn’t so sure. “I’ve done what I can, but Pancake’s still a very sick cat. Be prepared for the worst.”
Kristi helped me get Pancake settled into a cardboard box on the far side of the basement away from the kittens. It took all her energy to lick Kristi’s finger. “You’ll be okay tomorrow,” Kristi said, stroking Pancake’s bony form. “It’s Easter.” I grew up on a farm. I’d been around animals enough to know when death was near. Poor little Pancake, Lord, and poor Kristi. Nothing she’s ever loved has died.
“Honey,” I said that afternoon as we colored Easter eggs, “Pancake is very sick. The vet says she might die.”
“Pancake will be okay,” Kristi repeated. “It’s Easter.” I looked down at the egg I was dyeing. How many times had I told Kristi that Easter was about new life? Of course she was sure Pancake would live.
I went to the basement one last time before bed. The kittens were sleeping in a silky heap. Pancake lay motionless in her box. I put my hand on her, longing to feel her purr like she did that first morning. Her breathing was barely a tremor.
Just before dawn I slipped out of bed and went to the basement. I didn’t want Kristi to find Pancake, not on Easter morning. But her box was empty! Had she found the strength to drag herself into a corner to die? Upstairs, I heard the others getting up. I’d break the news to them, then search for Pancake’s lifeless body.
I checked on the kittens. I probably looked nearly as surprised as the women who went to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter morning. Meow. Looking up at me with bright round eyes was a purring Pancake! Nursing contentedly were her kittens.
I raced up the stairs two at a time, crying, “Kristi, come see Pancake!”
It’s Easter, I thought. Come see the miracle of new life. Then again, my daughter already knew all about that—better than I did.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to All Creatures magazine.