What our family cat taught us about God’s unconditional love
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
“You were my second mommy, the sweetest girl ever, and I miss you so much.”
The words, scrawled by my daughter in a tear-stained letter to our late cat, Teetee, broke my heart.
We lost our kitty-daughter, Teetee, a couple of weeks ago after her short battle with cancer. She was old—almost 17—and her passing was relatively quick and in the night at our home, a blessing for which I am grateful.
Still, our home is not the same. I still imagine her in the shadows, out of the corner of my eye as I walk from the bedroom to the kitchen… still envision her lazing happily in her favorite sunshine spot, still expect her to come prowling when I get out the cheddar cheese—her favorite snack—for breakfast.
Teetee was the absolute best cat ever—not a pet, in truth, but the Real Mom of the House. The kids might call me “Mom,” but Teetee and I knew she was really the one in charge of everyone’s welfare. After all, she was the one who knew when someone was sick, often even before we did. She’d sense the illness and come to sit by us, try her best to sleep on our head, even, if we’d let her.
If someone was sad, or worried, she’d scooch close and snuggle in, like she could somehow send her “everything will be fine” state of mind directly into us.
And she’d been with us through so much!
I found Teetee at the adoption center of a pet store back in 2003, shortly after my kitty Roxanne passed away. I was brokenhearted back then and certain I wasn’t ready for a cat for a long, long time … and then I happened by Teetee, a tiny calico relaxing among the other, more antsy felines. I couldn’t resist asking to hold her, and she came to me willingly, sniffed at me curiously, turned in a circle in my arms, and promptly fell asleep. (In other words: She picked me.)
Teetee sat with me as I sobbed during a long period of infertility; it felt like she was saying, “I understand. I can’t have babies either. Everything will be fine.”
Then, after my “miracle son” was born two years later, she’d watch me nurse, change diapers, and rock my little one long into the wee hours. We’d exchange knowing looks, Teetee and I—“We’ve got this,” we’d think at each other.
Two years and another baby, a daughter, later, and Teetee and I had settled into a pattern. She’d watch them carefully, look at me mournfully when one was wailing or tugging at her tail. We’d commiserate, mom to mom; the toddler phase was tough! She’d let them do most anything to her, too, tolerating my son’s heavy pats and allowing him to lug her here and there. She’d let my daughter dress her up with princess cloaks and baby blankets and push her around in a baby stroller.
She was with me again as I’d despair on lonely nights, through an out-of-state move, through the dissolution of my marriage and a period as a single mom, through times when I’d wonder how we’d all eat or get through. “Everything will be fine,” she’d tell me in her kitty way. Of course, she was right.
When Matt and I fell in love and planned to marry, and he came over one night to watch a movie, she claimed him as part of the family, too. She leapt onto the couch, bypassed me, and settled right down on his belly, placing one paw delicately on his chest. “You’re in,” she was saying.
As the kids went from toddler to elementary-age and now young teens, she handled their mood swings far better than I, cuddling with my daughter when my daughter would get furious with me over some perceived slight, calming her with her kitty “everything’s fine” vibe.
Now, all these years later, she’s gone, and the house feels so empty without her. I miss her cuddles and purrs, the way she’d meow “helllloooo” in the early mornings trying to wake us up, her peaceful basks in sunny spots, even her cat hair that covered every surface like putty.
She loved us fiercely. And we loved her.
Looking back, I see the love of Jesus Christ shining throughout her whole life… the way she was always there in our toughest moments; the way she never, ever left us even when we wailed or acted sassy; the way she kept us focused on the after, letting us know everything would be fine. Now I realize what she was saying: Relax. God has you, sweet angst-filled human. Don’t fuss or fear.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).
Rest in peace, sweet Teetee. Thank you for your love, for always being there in the toughest moments, and for showing us the unconditional love of Jesus in the way you loved us.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.
Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.