When I was just 15, my parents surprised me with a kitten. I guess they were suffering from a combination of empty nest syndrome (I was away on a class trip to Quebec) and anticipatory loss, because our dog was dying of cancer.
I had wanted a cat for years, but my parents weren’t cat people. When I was 10, my friend’s cat had kittens and I fell in love with one of them but my parents resisted all my pleading, and he went to someone else (I recently saw a cat at my work who was a dead ringer for that kitten – I think part of me will always be looking for him). They had let me have mice, gerbils, birds, fish, and a dog, but they drew their line at cats.
So when I came home from Quebec and found this tiny ball of fluff waiting for me, it was a dream come true.
“She’s yours for the next 20 years,” my parents warned me. “When you go to university, THIS goes with you.”
“Of course!” I said reverently, fingering the wispy tail.
But it didn’t work out that way.