My son opened our bedroom door this morning, with a “Happy Thanksgiving! Is it okay if I let Gem and Tigerlily in?”
“Of course,” we chimed back.
Within seconds, eight paws, two tails and a preteen turned our bed into a Thanksgiving morning of smiles, purrs, snuggles and laughter.
As I watched my son close his eyes and go nose-to-nose with an equally winky Tigerlily, my heart melted. The compassion that he has shown with our new kittens astounds me as I watch their mutual bond, pure and unconditional, grow each day.
He’d been asking for kittens for years, and I’d continually countered with excuses.
“We’ll get cats when …” was a common refrain, finished by a multitude of conditions that I can’t even recall now. Perhaps I was waiting for some epiphany where I’d look into the night sky and the stars would rearrange and spell, “Get that kid a cat.”
This past spring, the topic of getting kittens came up once again, and something in me changed. I looked at my son, and saw the years flying by. He’d soon turn eleven. His personality, intellect and body are all starting give hints of impending adulthood. I didn’t need to look up to the stars for my epiphany. It stood squarely in front of me in the form of my son’s fleeting childhood.
Later that night, after conferring with my wife, we walked into his bedroom. I knelt down next to his bed as I do most nights.
“Guess what?” I smiled. “We’re going to get kittens.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen purer joy. My lingering doubt vaporized. We were getting kittens.
Over the next few weeks, my wife and son made several visits to a rescue volunteer’s house who was fostering a litter of orphaned barn kittens. At the end of June, we adopted Gemstone (aka Gem) and Tigerlily (aka T-Lil), two little puffs of curiosity that have captured our hearts and attention ever since.
As I watch Gem and T-Lil scamper around and over the house, I hope that we have given them as much as they have given us. For all the claw marks in the curtains and early morning meows outside the bedroom door, the girls pay us back ten-fold with their love and affection. They have a direct line to our emotions, often knowing that we need affection and assurance before we do.
On this Thanksgiving morning, Gem and T-Lil, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for you.
Thank you, unconditionally.