“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


I Forgot to Ask Her Name

Things move around, life puts you in places you might not otherwise be and I think of wings a lot this time of year, of angels flying out of a cold nighttime sky, of silence and stars and candlelight, but I never think of myself as an angel, not even close, no wings on my back, and not even in a good mood much the last few weeks, but I admit to a softness in my heart that brings me to tears at unexpected beauty, at shadows searching for warmth as winter closes in, I admit to all that, and maybe that counts for something, or maybe the Universe or God or maybe even busy angels just need someone else to be somewhere at a certain time and maybe they pick you or me, knowing our true hearts as they do, knowing we'll know what to do.

This busy hard time of year sent me to the vet with Maggie yesterday, she just needing her daily fluids, nothing wrong, the ever-wonderful Michael just needing to be here, unable to leave, photographs needing to be delivered, so Maggie and I were off to the vet's together, she oddly quiet and calm, Christmas music on the stereo, so familiar to last fall's visits, gray skies overhead, rain threatening. As we made our last turn, a white SUV coming from the opposite direction turned onto the road before us, a woman driving, and I knew in my heart she also was headed for the vet's and something was wrong, I could feel it, I could sense her tightness, her hurry; as we parked she was fast out of her seat, around to the passenger side, grabbing a cat carrier and heading inside; my heart sank for her as I did exactly the same in a not-hurried way, walking around to the passenger side of the Jeep and picking up Maggie's carrier. Inside they were waiting for her and she handed them the carrier, then sank onto a red bench, turning inward - I could see it - turning small, as they hurried off to the back, she not even watching, looking at the floor, at the coffee table stacked with cat and dog magazines and old issues of Good Housekeeping, looking nowhere really but deep in her heart. I gave them Maggie, and though there was no one else in the waiting room, plenty of empty seats, I sat next to her. Soon an assistant was out, reassuring the woman, gathering more answers to more questions, then off again, and the woman became even tighter, fighting tears, and I, who had listened to the questions and answers, and realized the cat was diabetic, had had a bad reaction to his usual insulin shot, said to her I don't know you but you look like you need a hug and yes, she nodded, she did, and so we did, and we talked and we both cried a bit, and I asked her cat's name - Pepper, she said, and she told me where she lived - several miles away in a small community - and how she had flown through the streets to get there, and I remembered the time I, too, had done that very same thing, with Stella, the cat before Maggie, flown 30 miles on a Saturday evening in an old Nissan to get to the emergency vet's, how Stella had not come home with me, I was too late, how Maggie was born that very day; I thought all those things in the twinkle of a moment, and we talked some more and soon Maggie was ready to go home, and before I left, I gave the woman another hug, this stranger who said I have no children, he is like my child, and I knew, I knew, but I felt Pepper was going home with her, felt that he would be okay yesterday, felt that from things said by the assistant, and I hope I am right, that she didn't go home alone. I will ask Saturday when I take Maggie again.

When I talked to my mother later,
I asked her to include Pepper in her prayers,
and also the woman,
whose name I did not get.


  1. I find it hard to look forward to the days when winter starts. But as I was walking my dog, Cooper, I came across some truly beautiful wintery things. You might enjoy a look. http://theeccentriclady.blogspot.com/
    I am so glad you reached out to the hurting lady, it is so wonderful when we hear God prodding us to do his work for Him. I do pray her kitty is well. I also loved the items you shared from Winnie and Tultla's! Have a great day.

  2. Once again, you've brought me to tears. I lost a cat last year to kidney failure (her name was Maggie, too) and am trying hard to appreciate my time with the kitty who is still with me. She is healthy but pushing 20 and so I can't help but worry about what is ahead.

    You write beautifully. Thanks for the lovely post.

  3. Isn't it neat (neat's not the right word) how we can help somebody else just by being there after we've been through something similar? It's unfortunate that we have to go through hard times, but when we come out on the other side we can pay it forward, and so on and so on. I believe God planned it that way. I know you gave her alot of comfort that day. I hope she was able to take her kitty home.

  4. Wow, I am so impressed by both your writing and your capacity for human compassion. I'm sure that woman appreciated your kindness and as a cat lover who lost a furry friend a few months ago, your story moved me to tears as well. I too hope Pepper lives to be loved another day. Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. Debi...you have a heart so pure and true. I love that you sat next to her in that big empty waiting room...that you two shared a precious moment together. She will never ever forget you.
    Oh, I could cry.

  6. ...sometimes the hardest thing to do is to set down in the chair...but after you did, it was the easiest thing. human compassion. beautiful...no need to say anything further...

  7. it's nice that you were there for her.

  8. like jamie. pure of heart and tuned in to the heart strings of other's. my friend. xo

  9. oh.filled with such gratitude that she was there when you were..and sad as well.

    the photo is a stunning addition to this chance(?) encounter

  10. So beautifully touching I cried. For the woman, for her cat, for your thoughtfulness, for my beloved Sasha who I lost suddenly in July and still have not recovered. Debi your photos are amazing and your writing truly astounding!

  11. Pepper and her mistress will certainly be in our prayers. We have a cat named Pepper too. She is getting up there in her years. A family member, these felines are.

  12. Robin recommended your blog to me today and I can certainly see why. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written.

  13. Olive was a Wild Kingdom-sized tabby that turned feral when our neighbors moved away and left her behind. She turned remarkably un-feral when my daughter finally coaxed her inside one cold night to have what was probably Olive's first mouseless meal in years.

    We always joked that Olive was our dog because she ran to the driveway when she heard our car pull up or walked around the block with us or sat in the doorway and growled through the screen at the men who worked in the yard across the street. She wasn't a cuddly thing - if you picked her up she would stick her arms out like Frankenstein and wiggle to be put down, please. But she loved to lie on us, heart-to-heart until something pulled her attention away.

    Depending on Olive's mood, we called her Ollie (the dog), or Ollie-wood (the diva), or just O. When we had to put Olive to sleep this past summer, my daughter and I hugged and hugged and cried, and then hugged some more. We still tell Ollie stories and greatly miss our old girl. So I'm glad you were there to offer a hug, too.


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