I am finally writing the words I’ve always threatened, but nobody thought I’d dare: This is a love letter to my cat.
Fate brought him to me. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. I planned to go to the pool one late August day in 2016. The Alabama heat was sweltering at approximately 1,000 degrees. Parched, my friend and I stopped by our student newspaper to get my favorite vending machine beverage. As we approached the building, I heard what sounded like a duck quacking. My friend pointed to the front of the building where my baby – a kitten, not a duck – Oliver, stood, mewing his tiny head off.
Oliver was 0.8 pounds and fit in the palm of my hand when I found him, barely more than a four-week-old ball of gray fluff. From that moment, we were inseparable. As a baby, he would cry whenever I left the room, inconsolable no matter how much love he received from my then-roommates. As an adult, I often come home to find him sitting at the window, waiting for my return. I’ll be the first to say it; I am a crazy cat lady . I get a monthly subscription box full of cat-related products. For my birthday one year, my parents bought a cat tree. For my cat.
But, he has been with me through it all. Through the year I worked for four publications at once and barely had time to breathe. Through the move to Missouri, when I missed the place I called home for four years. He calms my anxiety. At the end of a long day, when all I can think of is the ways I’ve failed, he reminds me that I’m loved.
For some, feeling anxious and sad reaches the level of a diagnosable illness. On page 16, you’ll find a story about a group training people to recognize signs of mental health issues, respond to them in times of crisis and take care of their own mental health. Though it’s often difficult to discuss, it’s important to remind people that they’re not alone and that taking the time to care for yourself is vital, whatever that means to you. For me, it’s as simple as a good cuddle with my little gray fluffball.