Return of the Monkey

A horrible yowling woke me up at 5 a.m., a full hour before I usually start ignoring my beeping alarm. I laid there trying to ignore it, cursing the stray cat who wouldn’t go away – until I recognized that particular yowl and leapt out of bed in complete disbelief.

Remember Cricket, my beloved cat who was killed by a car last September? (Yeah, it wasn’t him. I don’t write horror stories.)

His brother, Monkey, was a huge comfort to me as I mourned the loss of that little body with the great big personality. Over the winter I got used to having only one cat around as Monkey literally expanded to fill his brother’s boots, bulking up and taking over the morning meditation duties that had been Cricket’s sole domain.

I’m a pretty laid back cat-owner. We get along well that way. I provide food, window sills and affection; they come and go pretty much as they please. So, I don’t usually stress if a cat doesn’t come home for a day or two. But by the beginning of April, when two days had stretched into two weeks I resigned myself to the worst-case-scenario. I assumed Monkey had also exhausted his 9th life.

Fast forward two and a half months. I’ve given the cat food and paraphernalia to the Humane Society. I’ve told the boys we will get another cat someday, but not yet. I’ve started to think that maybe we need to thin the herd by of a golden retriever as well. (Emmet, I’m convinced, is willfully ignorant and intentionally stupid – but that’s probably another blog post altogether.) I’m trying to rest up from a long weekend and there’s a stray cat howling in my back yard.

After 10 weeks of being AWOL, Monkey the cat is skin and bones and happy to be home

But it’s not a stray cat.

It’s Monkey.

A very thin, very hungry, very, very, affectionate Monkey the Cat.

The house feels at peace with itself again.

In Memorium – Cricket was a good cat…

The Muses

Monkey and Cricket indicate their approval

I never intended to launch this blog with an obituary. I suppose very few people would. However, given the influence this particular life had on my writing career, this seems appropriate.

Cricket the cat, after all, inspired a whole chapter of Glitter in the Sun.

Those who have read Glitter in the Sun will recognize the cat who reminded me of heaven on a daily basis by sitting in my lap and simpy purring. He taught me how very simple it is to praise God, all it takes is some time. Time to sit and remember how much God does for me and to show God my enjoyment of his grace.

That’s what Cricket did every morning. I would let him in from night of hunting or exploring or whatever it was he did while I slept. He would eat and I would gather up my Bible, journal, pen and devotional, then we would sit together on the couch. His obvious bliss and rumbling purr, which is all I ever wanted from him, would remind me that my praise brings joy to God’s heart too, and that my obedience is a very small thing compared to all He’s done and is doing for me. Cricket would enjoy the peace and warmth of my lap and I would enjoy the peace and wisdom of God.

The past two mornings have been sad for me because just a few days ago, as I returned from taking my 2nd grader to school, I found Cricket on the street, the victim of a speeding car. The friend walking with me kept my 4-year-old occupied while I picked up the little broken body and moved it to the back yard – but he figured it out anyway. We had a funeral for him that afternoon so both boys could say goodby.

It’s amazing how much personality those furry little bodies can contain. Cricket took up a lot of space when he entered the room. He was sassy with the dogs and sweet with the boys, and to my endless amusement he would force his way onto my cat-despising husband’s lap – until I came into the room, then my lap was the only one that would do.

But life goes on. Monkey, Cricket’s brother, is glad for the attention he doesn’t have to share. But unlike Cricket – who claimed me as his favorite person, Monkey prefers my 4-year-old, and will completely cover his little legs if the boy is sits still for more than three minutes at a stretch.

Monkey did join me yesterday on the couch during my morning devotions and it was sweet, but I still cried for the cat I miss. And I wonder, if in heaven the lion lays down with the lamb, will a white cat with tiger stripped blotches curl up with a songbird at his side?