A Reflection of Love
by Julie Coulter Bellon
Almost fourteen years ago, some friends of ours were giving away kittens. As a small family with three children, we thought it would be fun to have one. We chose one that was all black and took him home. All the way home we talked about names for our new addition. Our oldest son (who was four at the time) was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thought of one of his favorite characters in the TMNT movie named Casey and so we named our kitten Casey.
Casey was so tiny as a kitten that we had to help him up and down the stairs. His little paws couldn’t seem to reach far enough to propel his body anywhere at first. However, he quickly became quite mischievous and would wait around corners for my two year old daughter to come toddling down the hall, before he would jump out and scare her. One of his favorite pastimes was to wait under her bed for her to kneel down and say her prayers, and then he would run out and playfully attack her legs. Our youngest son was six months old and Casey didn’t much care for him at first, since he mostly just pulled his tail, but they quickly became friends as my son grew.
Casey was a loyal companion to the entire family. He was probably the smartest cat I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of cats. He instinctively seemed to know when someone needed a snuggle or a listening ear and he was always there. One time, after my oldest son had come home from second grade very discouraged over some problems with his friends, he pulled Casey close and said, “Mom, even if I never have any friends, I’ll always have Casey.”
Not that Casey’s life didn’t have its problems. When my grandfather died, we took his eighteen year old cat in and she didn’t like Casey at all. Casey did his level best to avoid her until she passed away four months after we got her. I don’t think Casey missed her much when she was gone, but I have to say he was quite patient while she lived with us.
And Casey was a very patient cat. Each time we brought home a new baby, he seemed to give me that look with a deep sigh that told me he might be thinking, “Are you serious? Another one to pull my tail?” But he never bit or clawed any of the children and was very, very sweet to each new baby.
His favorite thing to do was probably lie in the sun in his favorite spot in the living room to catch the best rays, but when so inclined, he could also do an awesome head butt or chase down anything that moved. And sometimes, if you looked at him just right, he seemed to be smiling. I loved that about him.
Last Friday, we watched as our beloved Casey took his last breaths. We held him and whispered our love for him in his ear, stroking his fur as he gently passed away. I think, in that moment, a little piece of my heart broke into a million pieces. I watched my oldest son, who is now eighteen and a pretty tough guy, cradle this little animal in his arms and say goodbye. There were lots of tears at Casey’s funeral, but some laughter, too, as we recalled some of our favorite memories of Casey.
I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to feel the unconditional love of a pet. It is so meaningful to have that sort of love and responsibility as you learn to care for one of God’s creatures and in return, have a little glimpse of God’s love. How wonderful it is to have a best friend who will listen to you no matter what time of day or night, who never tells you you’re silly or ridiculous for feeling the way you do, and always seems happy to see you---no matter what you look like or what mood you’re in.
Our house feels a little emptier without Casey in it, but while it’s hard to say goodbye for now, the memories of our sweet cat and what he meant to each of us will not be forgotten.