An Unlikely Feline Friend Brought Heaven-Sent Comfort

Was the yellow-striped cat bringing a message from her husband who had recently died of a heart attack?

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Posted in , Jun 24, 2022

A cat with angel wings perched on a patio chair; Illustration by Christina Wald

Bill just wasn’t a cat person. Yet there he was on the porch, my husband with a yellow striped cat in his arms. “Look who found me,” he said with a grin. My eyes widened while I waited for the stray to leap from Bill’s arms and go on her merry way—but that didn’t happen.

Bill and that cat, named AbbyCat by our granddaughter, were soon inseparable. Wherever Bill went, AbbyCat followed. On his long daily walks she stayed right at his heels. I’d never seen anything like it.

Watching from the window one chilly afternoon, I saw Bill heading for his Adirondack chair under the Bradford pear tree. AbbyCat jumped up on one of the chair’s broad arms and waited for Bill to settle in. When he was comfortable, he lifted her into his lap and opened a book. A bit later I brought him out a sandwich. Naturally he shared it with AbbyCat.

The only place AbbyCat didn’t follow Bill was into the house. The screened back porch was as far as she would go. So Bill fixed her up a cozy box for whenever she wanted to stay the night. “She’ll be snug in here,” he said when it was finished. Sure enough, AbbyCat curled right up inside.

I wasn’t surprised when I glanced out into the yard one afternoon in February. She obviously doesn’t mind this cold snap, I thought. Just like Bill. The two of them were in their chair, Bill stroking AbbyCat’s fur absentmindedly while he read. I’d grown used to their unexpected friendship, which somehow seemed meant to be. It felt like a blessing as I looked on from the window, the two of them all the warmth each other needed under the pear tree.

A few days later, Bill came into the kitchen for his usual breakfast: cereal and bananas. From the living room, I heard an odd sound. When I went to see what had happened, I found Bill lying on the floor. My husband couldn’t be revived. He had died instantly of a heart attack.

In the coming days, I hardly gave AbbyCat a thought as she came and went. But when I got home from Bill’s funeral, I found her on the porch. I knew she was looking for Bill, missing him, just like me. “He’s gone,” I told her. “We’ve both lost someone very dear.” She couldn’t understand. Neither could I. It was impossible to imagine a world without Bill in it. I tried to coax AbbyCat inside, wanting her there more than ever. She refused, as always.

After that, I stopped seeing her in the yard, or on the porch. Bill’s Adirondack chair stayed empty. So did AbbyCat’s box. Somehow her disappearance seemed to make Bill’s absence all the more permanent. It was a strange comparison, but all I could think was that I would never see either one of them again.

Then one afternoon, I glanced out the window and saw a flash of yellow. AbbyCat! She was sitting on the porch, staring at the house just like she had so many times before. “You’re always welcome,” I whispered. “On your own terms, of course.” I knew better than to try to coax her inside. It would only scare her away. Her silent presence was enough to lift my spirits.

Over the next few weeks, I glimpsed AbbyCat three times. She would sit on the porch, looking into the house, as if she wanted me to simply feel her presence. And even though Bill wasn’t there, I could feel his presence too. A presence that reached me all the way from heaven and assured me we would see each other again someday.

Once AbbyCat had gotten her message across, she didn’t return. Her angelic mission was accomplished. Not only by being an unlikely friend to Bill, but by being a comfort to me.

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