My childhood was not happy. Thankfully, I did not know it. I spent as time as I could inside my home between the end of the school day and bed time. I played with my friends or alone in local playgrounds; I had faith in God and my guardian angel.
Our neighbours across the street had a cat named Aleck. He was a big beautiful white cat who was not allowed inside his home. He would sit on windowsills and beg to be let inside so when I did not want to go home and there was no one to play with, I played with Aleck. We formed a strong bond.
I remember countless days of heartbreak whilst eating alone at our dining room table and watching Aleck across the street begging to be let inside. He’d be perched on the the kitchen windowsill all through winter crying to be admitted and it killed me.
Then our neighbours moved to California and so Aleck came to live with us. I was a kid; although I loved Aleck to bits, Dad fed him and I continued to stay away from home as much as possible. But at night, Aleck would come to my room to sleep.
Aleck was my first love. My mother was sliding into the mental illness that would see her institutionalized and Dad became a nasty bully. I could not love them so Aleck was an emotional revelation.
I was too young when we had Aleck. I did not realize the significance of our relationship. All I knew was that nothing, absolutely nothing, beat the feeling of that cat perched on my chest, eyes closed, purr at full throttle, as I fell asleep. He was the angel of comfort to my aching soul as I cusped on adolescence.
His memory kept me warm all my life. As I matured, I came to regret that I did not thank him enough for all he did for me. Then, about a decade ago on a day like any other, a gorgeous, verbal Burmese cat wandered into my townhouse.
I could not help it; I cuddled with it for a bit and then put it outside and I drove away to the store. But when I got home, the cat was back and inside my house. Realizing he’d come through a window, I found his owner in our complex a few townhouses away. Bill, the owner of the cat was moving to Berlin so he gave Leon to me.
I never met my real father. My real mother gave me up at six months old. My adoption lasted eight years. It’s as though I was meant to be alone, becoming skilled with solitude but pining for intimacy—hence my late-in-life renewal of my relationship with God.
I am where I began: alone with God and a loving cat as my guardian. It is good.
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