In the whirlwind of hast as we rushed into the car we didn’t notice our stow-away. My mother piled her young children into the car in route to pick up my father from the airport. In the hurried frenzy our extra passenger went unnoticed.
She had evidently been sun-bathing her black fur while soaking in the warmth of the cars’ black vinyl roof. She must have woken with such a start as the car quickly made its way from the busy streets of San Francisco and onto the fast moving highway.
Inside the car no one noticed. On top of the car her long hunters’ claws sunk deep into the roof. Inside my mother focused on the traffic. Outside the wind whipped at her face as she clung for life, using up the first of her nine lives. Inside my brother and I were caught up in our own lives as only children can be. We made no effort to help her, unaware of her stow-away status and the calamity that gripped her.
As we sped down the highway she pulled her body forward and peered her frantic face down into the windshield while releasing one loud and distinct meow. Having made her presence known my mother immediately pulled to the side of the busy highway and rescued her into the safety of our car. My young black cat Puffy remained calm in the face of crisis. She clung on for dear life, let her family know she was in trouble and then did not dash recklessly into the traffic when the car stopped.
I will never forget the look on her face as she sought out her people to rescue her. She laid no blame on us for accidently putting her life in danger. She found great comfort in my arms as her heart stopped racing and her meows melted into purrs. We were best friends after all.
What has always struck me of that memory is how she went from basking in the sun to clinging for her very life to the roof of a speeding car without any warning. Isn’t that true in life? Sometimes we are in the brightest moment dancing in the glory of our lives when suddenly it feels as if the rug was pulled out from underneath us.
There have been many times that I have found myself, like my childhood stow-away cat, suddenly caught up in the whirlwind of life’s cycles.
One of the many reasons that I started the 360 Degrees of Grief book series is to give hope from the stories of others when you find yourself clinging on in the heart of the storm. If you have a story related to grief check out this call to writers and join the project.
photo credit Shoot Y’all Photography