hides them under my bed (I counted 4 this morning.), behind the Rosemary potted plant, under the armoire that holds my TV, by the water bowl, in his eating plate, and under most chairs.
Eli is asleep dreaming kitten dreams as I type this about his great predecessor—Zach the Cat. I am retiring this webpage not because Eli has come but because Zach is gone and it is time. Zach died of a heart attach on November 27, 2017. He was toasty warm as I held him and wept. I buried my face in his long, lanky body and felt that soft fur one more time. One minute he was being his happy self. The next minute he was lying on the driveway gone. I cried so hard that I think I drove my next-door neighbor out of his house. I heard him rev his engine and leave.
I inherited Zach when he was nearly a year old. A sweet friend from work was moving and had to give away her cats. Zach’s baby picture melted my heart. “I’ll take him,” I said not knowing what to do with a cat since I had never had one. I was always a “dog person” as us dog people like to say.
Zach changed all my smirks, cringes, sly remarks, and look-down-the-nose attitude towards cats and cat owners. He changed my bad behavior of judging cats and people who love them. He changed my attitude from a sense of superiority to a sense of gratefulness. Before Zach, I was “making it,” “pushing through,” “pressing on,” etc. with life and work. And that’s not a bad thing. But you have no idea what you are missing until someone—and in my case, some little thing—comes along and purrs your heart into contentment.
I was awkward with Zach the Cat at first. What do you do with a cat? How do you hold him? Pet him? Be around him? A dog is mostly instantaneous affection and closeness. But a cat….well it took some time for us to get used to each other—especially me to him.
But after a while I noticed a strange feeling in my heart. I was experiencing warmth, care, and tenderness because of Zach. When he jumped up beside me on the sofa or on the bed at night and would throw his hinny right against my hip, it amazed me. When he crawled up in my lap as I watched TV or crept under the sheets in the winter and lined up right next to me, falling asleep in the crook of my arm, it all awakened a new joy and delight to love and care for something beyond myself. I discovered a new happiness in myself while appreciating this novel gift called Zach the Cat.
I also found new laughter because Zach made me laugh out loud so many times.
Like when I turned 50 and the 12 helium balloons bobbing on my ceiling with long curly ribbons became an object of Zach’s attack. Before I knew what happened, his lunge to the curly ribbons got him entangled in the mess which made him run. But the more he ran, the more the balloons chased him which he was unknowingly pulling. He ran circles in my house until those ribbons dislodged from him as he dived under a chair. I laughed tears! Afterward, for several years he would run when I started to wrap my Christmas presents with the curly ribbons. Outside Zach loved to jump in the air to catch whatever I was throwing. His acrobatic antics had me in stitches—except when he would go to the top of the cabinets in the kitchen or to the third story of trees or get stuck on a neighbor’s roof at 10:30 PM or stand on the top of my roof refusing to come down when I said so. HA!
As a chaplain called to a lot of hard things, Zach the Cat brought me much-needed reprieve, laughter, affection, and love. Who knew a cat could do all that? Also I believe I brought to Zach his much-needed security, attachment, and trust—all that makes an animal happy.
My friend Becky Russell encouraged me to start this blog mostly to get out my intense feelings of grief and loss after my mom suddenly died days before Thanksgiving in 2008. It felt good to label the blog “Zach the Cat” and promote him as I wrote about hard stuff back then. He wrote on it a little, but not much. Zach was more into eating, sleeping, and playing. Not much of a writer.
I can’t say enough about how that cat awakened my heart and spirit. I am grateful to God for such a sweet gift at such a perfect time. Zach has been quietly there as I have gone through the valleys (and hid sometimes when I was shouting from my mountaintops).
That was God’s Kairos timing.
Thank you oh Lord.
So now I say good-bye to this blog with a sense of loss, a sense of great gain, and a sense of incredible gratefulness to the Lord who creates all things and people.
“Even birds and animals have much they could teach you; . . . All of them know that the Lord's hand made them. It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power” (Job 12:7-10).
“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made” (Ps. 145:9).