The girl sat at home alone; at least without human company, but the family cat was there.
At 10, she had become an expert at faking a sick day. The truth was she didn’t want to go to school. She had always been a bit of a square peg, and now with her family still reeling from a bitter divorce, facing her school friends with their in-tact families seemed a bit too daunting for a Monday. Money was tight for a single mother of four, especially when said mother happened to be employed as a waitress. A day off to care for a sick child was not really an option when you worked for tips.
Her mother reluctantly left her youngest child home alone, knowing there were neighbors next door and across the street the girl could call in case of an emergency.
The girl was enjoying her solitude. She was ordinarily a talkative, outgoing child, but lately wasn’t really feeling that way. She was perfectly content with the company of the television and the family cat, Nicky.
Nicky was another matter. After an expensive series of treatments for feline leukemia, he was finally in remission. He represented the life before her dad announced (on Christmas day, no less) that he was leaving. Nicky was a reminder of a family unbroken – Dad, Mom, sisters, brother, dog and cat. Perhaps that was too much to expect from a cat, but as the girl sat there with the cat purring in her lap, she felt comforted.
That is, until the cat fell from her lap and onto the floor. He began to pant and become limp. Terrified, she did the first thing that came to her mind. She called Mrs. Jones.
The Jones family lived two doors down. Their youngest daughter was friends with the girl’s older sister. They were a good, Christian family who always seemed to be doing something for someone else. Mrs. Jones was one of the kindest, most sincere people that the girl had ever met in her young life. Even though the neighbors obviously knew what was going on in that house, the girl never felt judged or pitied by Mrs. Jones – only loved.
The girl dialed the Jones house, said something incoherent into the phone through her tears and hung up. Mrs. Jones was there in a matter of minutes. She embraced the young girl and told her it was going to be okay. She then calmly wrapped the cat into a towel, and walked with the girl and the cat the short distance to her driveway.
The girl sobbed quietly on the way to the vet. She knew that Nicky would not be making the return ride home in the car. Alas he did not, but Mrs. Jones was there. And somehow that made the ride home much more bearable.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that little girl was me. As I sat at the funeral of Mrs. Jones over 30 years later, I reflected upon how on that day and on countless other days for countless other people, her kindess and love reflected the Love of Christ. She really understood about that kind of love. I am so grateful for people in my life like Mrs. Jones.