I came home one day at lunchtime to rescue the boys from a long, hot day at home and take them to a long, cool day at the office. When I got out of my car in our driveway, I heard a cat yowling. I looked up at the top of the driveway and saw Lulu drop end over end out of a tree. I went up and called to her. More yowling happened. It was very dense woods where she was, there was no way I could get there or even see clearly. The kids came out and called to me to say hello and ask what was happening - I told them to be quiet so I could listen. I looked into the woods but only saw something moving away through the trees. I was a little bit worried but we have been through so many scares with our cats...I took the boys off to the office. She wasn't there when we got home. She didn't come home the next few days. Our Crazy Lu was not coming home. I knew it because she never left the yard, never missed a meal, but the boys needed hope.
Lulu had displaced Oshie. The Oshe had lived with us for 7 years, coming to us with kitten Bassa from the shelter as a 2-year-old off the streets. She had always been more comfortable outside the house in good weather, but since Lulu arrived, she had lived outside almost all of the time. When Lulu disappeared, Oshie came in and sat on our laps for a couple of days. We were thrilled and sad.
I put up signs for Lulu even though I knew she was gone - there was no way that cat would be away from food - or us. The boys, despite their endless sadness after bedtime, chose not to help. We got calls right away. A woman from the trailer park said she saw our cat on her deck that very night and had taken the time to drive down to get the sign so she could call us. I drove up there late, amazed at how many people live in that tiny neighborhood, all those people so close to us and we never knew, a small city right there just up the hill....but no Lulu. I hiked into the woods behind our house, calling, the next morning. No Lu. A couple of days later, another nice woman called, she had a few neighbors who had been feeding a tuxedo cat for 3 weeks. Even though that was way longer than she had been missing, we visited the neighborhood, right down the street. Everyone there knew our Lu, they all gave her food, she lays on her back in the dirt, she loves people, this must be our Lu.
Then no one saw her for a long time. Finally, we got a call late one night. The nice lady nearby said her neighbor had Lulu on his deck not a few minutes ago. I went to try to lure her. She was there, but she wouldn't come to me. I saw her and cried with relief, my girl was alive, at last I knew where she was. How could she not remember my voice? I tried to remember that a lot of people had been trying to catch her, she was panicked and afraid. I sat for a couple of hours on this poor man's driveway, mosquitos mercilessly preying on every bit of skin they could find. He went in, came back out, obviously attached to this crazy cat - and she to him. He eventually caught her and threw in my car, many scratches later. I was joyous.
We got home. I couldn't get her from the car to the house, I was desperate and sad and mystified about why she didn't love me and recognize her home, her only life, how could she forget us so quickly? I told the kids to go back to bed, I would wake them when I got her in. She showed up on the deck eventually, howling. I got a good look. Well, no wonder. The poor, displaced, tortured girl is not my f-ing cat. I stole someone else's stray. Slightly different markings on the back legs and face. I was so desperate for her to be alive, I ignored the obvious. She went. I hoped she could find her way back to what she knew.
The nice man left a message for me, thanking me for the flowers and note, saying the cat was already back that morning. He understood. He was sorry.
It's left a mark on the summer. Our Lu. I don't think anyone misses her as much as me. Clumsy, bossy Lu, no one ate as much as you. You would think I would learn by now not to get too attached to a silly old kitten.
This could have been a funny story. But it's not.
I found this picture in my camera last weekend and it made me feel so sad:
Lulu's shaky shrub, where she hid and thought no one could see her.
It's a metaphor for all that ails me.