Monday, September 1, 2014

It's not about the cat...sort of

     I’ve never been a cat person.  Growing up, I always had a dog and never wanted anything else.  But, my wife was a cat person.  She grew up on a farm and had countless cats over the years.
     One evening, as we prepared to go out on a date night, my wife heard meowing coming from our car.  We popped the hood, and a tiny black and white kitten, just a few weeks old (and probably still too young to be away from its mother), crawled deep into the engine trying to get away from us.  We pulled the kitten out and cleaned the grease off of it.  I watched as Lisa happily played with the kitten for hours. So, in early October 1996, barely a month after Lisa and I got married, I conceded to the fact that I was now a cat person—whether I liked it or not.
     Yesterday afternoon, just one week shy of my and Lisa’s 18th wedding anniversary, the cat died.  She’d been declining for a couple of months, and nature final took its course. 
     So why am I talking about our cat in a marriage blog? 
Lots of people have pets that come and go.  Well, for me, it’s not about the cat.  It’s about the history the cat represents.  The cat was the first thing that Lisa and I took care of together.  The cat was the last pet my Dad played with before he passed away.  The cat moved with us when my job took us to a new town.  It was my wife’s first real move away from family, but the cat was a nice constant from our old home to our new surroundings.  The cat napped with us on Sunday afternoons, and the cat curled up on my lap often as I recovered from a couple of different major surgeries.  When Lisa and I had our first child, the cat was already six years old, and we have enjoyed watching Chloe, and then Macie, and then Holden all respond to the cat in different ways.  The cat has helped us teach our children about responsibility and caring for God’s creation.  The cat was something warm and fuzzy to love on when the kids were happy, and to provide comfort when they were sad.  It was fun to watch the kids try and sneak the cat into the house and hide her among their stuffed animals, hoping we wouldn’t notice.  The cat didn’t know it was Christmas, but the kids enjoyed getting her presents and wrapping her in Christmas lights every year (the cat did not enjoy the latter).  When we got a dog a few years ago, the cat’s reaction gave us a venue to talk with our children about getting along and different ways to react when something shakes up your world.  Over the last couple of months, even as the cat declined and finally passed, it represented the major shifts that have recently happened in my and Lisa's lives.
     I’m glad we had a little black and white cat named Phelix to share our world over the last 18 years.  I praise God for his loving kindness to Lisa and me.  No matter what mountaintops we have enjoyed or valleys we have endured, the cat was a constant in our lives, and a part of the shared experience that we have as husband and wife.

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