My last post was on 12/29. That was a Wednesday. It was like any other Wednesday, really. Got up. Got ready for work. Earl, my 3 1/2 year old, nature-lovin' cat whined to go outside. We've gotten into a routine, Earl and I: I let him out when I leave for work (if it's not raining or super cold), and when I pull up in the evening, he comes running up to the front door, purring and ready to go in and have his supper. Then he stays in all night, snoozing and snuggling. (He really never wanders too far away. Usually he's one or two yards away, but for the most part, he's always within earshot. And he NEVER goes toward the busy street near my house because he's terrified of cars.) But when I got home from work this past Wednesday evening, no Earl. I wasn't too worried at first. I left to go get a pedicure, and came back home. Still no Earl. I started to get nervous. I was calling for him and rattling his treat can, but there was no sign of him. Ate some dinner, still no Earl. Took a shower, still no Earl. I was up until about 2:00am, going outside about every half hour, calling for him. I got about four hours of restless sleep and then started all over at about 6:30am, calling for him, walking around rattling the treat can. But nothing.
Thursday, I took the day off of work and made a "Please Help! Lost Cat" flyer with his photo on it. I walked door-to-door in my neighborhood handing out the flyers to those who were home, taping it to the doorknobs of those who weren't. I put a flyer up on the telephone poles at either end of my street. I dropped flyers at the nearby vet's office, fire station and coffee shop. I went to the animal shelter and looked for him. I put him in the "Lost Pets" log at the animal shelter. It was a very exhausting and emotional day.
I kept catching myself looking in his normal snooze spots, expecting him to be there, and remembering he was gone. I kept looking out the back door, expecting to see his little orange and white face looking back at me, but he was never there.
By Friday, I knew he was gone for good. Something bad had happened to him. He had been taken by a coyote. Or he'd been badly injured in a cat fight, and was lying somewhere hurt and dying. Or he'd eaten poison. I just knew it in my heart. He was gone. Vanished. Happy Fucking New Year.
Yesterday was New Year's Day. I went and walked 5 miles around Town Lake to rid myself of some of my stress and sadness. Later in the afternoon, I went to the grocery store near my house to get some blackeyed peas and greens to have for dinner (you know, traditional "luck and money" food that you're supposed to eat on New Year's Day). I was wandering through the store and, as a force of habit, found myself in the catfood aisle, thinking, "Does Earl need treats?" And it hit me: He's gone. Really, really gone. It was all I could do to get checked out and to my car before I burst into tears. I hadn't really cried about his disappearance, so when the floodgates opened, they opened big time. I was just sobbing, asking God, "Why?! Why?! He made me laugh EVERY DAY! Why did you take him?" It was awful.
I finally pulled it together enough to drive home, but I had a banging headache and my eyes were completely swollendand stinging. I sat down and watched the Rose Bowl (best football game I've ever seen, by the way) and ate my greens and peas. I went to bed thinking about how, in the morning, I would go and take down the flyers on the telephone poles. And that I should pick up his toys and stuff that were scattered around the house because everytime I looked at that stuff, it was like getting punched in the gut.
Woke up this morning and I could hear it raining. I was lying there in bed with my other cat, the very elderly Miss Ellen, just thinking about how much Earl hated the rain. Sigh. Got up and opened the blinds and pulled back the curtain on the back door and HOLY FUCKING SHIT there he was!!!!!! I thought I was going to pass out. I was shaking as I opened the door to let him in from the rain. I just kept saying, "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" I was crying. I couldn't believe it. He just walked on in and went over to his "treat spot" right by his scratching post and sat down, waiting for a treat. He was hungry, but other than that, he's totally fine. I felt all over him for scratches and cuts, and found nothing. He's up on my bed, snoozing as I write this. I have no idea where he was for four days. He's never done anything remotely like this, so I can't even imagine... But he's back, and he's safe, and he's already made me laugh a couple of times today. I cannot believe my prayer to have him come home safe and sound was answered. I love my fat little boy.