Alternate titles for today's post could be: "The House Ate My Cat," or "A Blow-by-Blow Analysis of My Near Heart-Attack."
As any casual reader of this blog knows, we're redoing our master bath. Everything has been gutted. There is nothing left but plywood floor and the remnants of stubborn glue still sticking to the wall. Being the room is such a mess, we are making sure to keep the cats out of it. And since we are making sure to keep the cats out of it, they are making it their life's goal to enter and explore the room.
Lucy made it in the other night. I have no idea how--I never saw her. But as I lay in bed, I heard a scratching on the door, opened it, and out trotted Ms. Thing, looking pleased with herself for outwitting me.
Yesterday, as I was getting dressed in the bedroom, I thought I heard a small "meow" come from the bathroom. The door was open because I have to go through the bath to get to my closet, but I looked inside and didn't see anyone, so I shut the door and then left the house for 5 hours, telling myself not to imagine things. Blair was at work.
I got home around 6 and dumped food into the cat's bowls. Piggy-girl of course came running, but no sign of Olivia. "Have you seen her since you've been home?" I asked Blair. He shook his head. And I knew right then and there, my baby was somewhere under the house. I opened a can of Fancy Feast, which always brings both cats on the run, just to be sure. Lucy started meowing but there was no sign of Olivia.
"She's under the house," I told Blair. "She may just be hiding," he countered. "You know how she is." I shook my head. A mother knows.
We peered down the shower hole where she would have entered. "Olivia, here baby," I called. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." We shone a flashlight into the dark hole. A cold breeze wafted up, but no sign of our cat.
Blair dressed in old jeans, gloves, a cap, grabbed a flashlight and a can of cat food and headed under the house. Our crawlspace is just that - a crawlspace. While Blair pushed himself around on his belly, I went back up to the bathroom and stuck my hand through the hole, calling for Olivia.
If you've ever seen the early 80's movie Poltergeist, you'll have an idea of what I was going through. Remember when the little girl has disappeared into the closet, and the mom is calling to her through the TV? The mom is saying, "Carol Ann, can you see Mommy? We love you so much...so much. Can you find your way back to Mommy?"
I had my Poltergeist moment on the hard plywood floor in the bathroom, desperately calling for my cat. "Olivia, can you see Mommy? (I fluttered my hand through the opening). Mommy loves you so much and wants you to come home. Can you find your way home to Mommy?"
Nothing. So we did what we could do, setting out food under the house at the front, back, and through the bathroom hole. We also filled a box with towels so she would have somewhere warm to sleep.
I made it through all this and then did one last outside search of the house with the flashlight, just in case she'd found a way out and was shivering in bushes somewhere. As I shone the light around the perimeter of the house, calling her name, I started crying. What if she'd hurt herself on a piece of metal when she jumped into the hole? Cats hide themselves when they're hurt. The whole underside of our house was dirt the same color as Olivia--we'd never find her. Plus, the place where she disappeared under the bathroom floor was the one place we couldn't get to in our crawlspace--the dirt was packed too high to the ceiling. What if she'd wedged herself somewhere and couldn't get out? If we couldn't find her tonight, what would be different tomorrow?
One thing that would be different was that the tile people were coming at 10 to look at the bathroom floor and I had every intention of having them rip up the plywood while there so I could get to my cat.
I went inside and had a minor meltdown, sobbing and shaking. "She's fine," soothed Blair. "You know her. She'll come out when she's good and ready to."
"But what if she can't?" I hiccupped. "What if she's hurt?"
I sat on the sofa in a stupor. I'd already been making mental deals with God all night and I upped the ante. If you bring my cat back safely, I will never have to sell another book. Okay. I will never have to be hired to write for another magazine again. Fine with me. I will never be a famous author. Whatever. Just please watch over my baby.
About 10pm Blair heard a scratching at the bathroom door. He opened it and out darted Olivia. I can't even begin to express my relief. I gave her a big rubdown during which she purred, purred, purred. "Never, EVER, do that to Mommy again," I instructed her, shaking my finger in front her little round face. "You stay here, safe and warm, with Mommy and Daddy from now on." She put a paw on my nose, as if to say, "Calm down. I'm fine."
I think the whole thing was a message from the Universe, reminding me to refocus on what's important to me. I'm getting so caught up in this "sell the book," mentality, I'm blocking out most everything else. Last week a friend was telling me about the troubles of a friend of hers. I won't go into details, but this woman's problems were gargantuan--the stuff of TV movies where you say, "That could never happen." And yet, she's living this horrible nightmare. My friend and I were saying hearing something like that really puts your own "troubles" in perspective.
I think that conversation and this episode with Olivia was the Universe's was of smacking me and saying, "Hey, pay attention! You live a wonderful, blessed life and it's time to start showing more appreciation for it."
I'm a realist. I know within a week I'll be blogging about the "woes" of the floor people who are messing up my house, or being all excited because I sold my book to another store. And all of that is okay. As long as underneath it all, there IS an appreciation for what I have. And an understanding that while my troubles are just that--my troubles--I am getting off very light indeed. I am going to work on focusing more on conscious gratitude.
And I'm going to spend a long, LONG time this morning, petting my cats.