This is sad. I’ll tell you that from the start, so you won’t get your hopes up and think maybe it works out. It doesn’t.
Lots of people have tried to help. Friends. Coworkers. Neighbors. Strangers. From the start, they came, walked the streets, posted listings, texted when they thought they’d found something, but still we searched.
On Tuesday, November 26 around 9:30 PM, Dantes and Fiyero escaped. These two sweet kitties got spooked as they entered their great grandma’s house for the first time, and before anyone could do anything, they’d darted out the door and ran off into the night.
A bright spot came the next day when Fiyero was spotted in the attic of my mother-in-law’s garage. With much coaxing, Fiyero came out and into the arms of my daughter.
The search for Dantes continued.
We put up posters, set out kitty litter, trapped some crazy black and white cat (twice), and knocked on door after door. Nothing.
Of course, through all of this we prayed. We pleaded. Every time we sat down to eat and said grace, we asked God to bring Dantes home. Every morning and every night. Please, God. Please bring Dantes home safely.
Since my mother-in-law lives in a separate state from both me and my daughter, we couldn’t continue the search daily. But every week or so, I would go down and walk the streets, go by the shelter, and sit on the back porch of a vacant house in the neighborhood. And I prayed. I prayed so much I thought I might annoy God.
When Christmas approached, we ramped up our efforts. “Bring Dante’s home for Christmas.” I put up fliers on sign posts and at the library. Still nothing, but my heart told me he was still out there.
Over the holiday, a neighbor caught sight of a black cat in his backyard. My daughter and I took off for Virginia, hopeful. The neighbor texted us every time the cat showed up, but we never saw it. Neither of us think this was Dantes. Evidently the neighborhood has a fat cat named Jerry who roams freely and does what he wants.
Jerry was our nemesis.
Still the prayers continued. God is faithful. He loves us. He cares.
Two weeks into January, we got a message from a stranger saying she thought she’d found our cat. A black cat had shown up at their barn the first week of December. She described him. He had a weird meow and growled at the door. All Dantesesque qualities. My daughter jumped in the car, and so did I. My trip is shorter, so I met the little guy first. Almost immediately I knew it wasn’t our cat, but the people were so hopeful. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this was the answer we’d been praying for. The next day Elizabeth and I visited the little guy.
She knew too. The eyes weren’t right. The fur was too thick. And the wild thing bit me. They quarantined him, put me on antibiotics, and that was that.
Another week passed, and we were approaching the two month mark. I decided to post more pleas with his little face on them.
And then I got the call.
Saturday afternoon. The woman said they had found Dantes. They’d identified him by the chip. I started weeping with joy, but she stopped me. “He was hit by a car. He’s gone.” My heart broke.
This is a story of heartbreak and of a prayer answered with a no.
Some people might say that God needed Dantes or that this is good somehow, but I don’t believe any of that. This is a sad awful thing, and it happened by accident in a careless world. Could it have been stopped? Maybe. If only we’d been in the right place at the right time. You hear stories like that. No coincidences. God put so-and-so at that stoplight right when whats-her-name called for help.
But what about all the times that doesn’t happen? Did God care less for those people in those moments? His love is thorough and deep, and it goes with us through the valleys.
I wanted to blame God. He could have fixed this. Stopped it even, and he didn’t. And the weight of it crushed my heart. There wasn’t this unexplainable feeling of peace that kept the tears from flowing. It hurt. And yes, it was just a cat, but loss is loss. And this loss felt a lot like rejection.
But it wasn’t. Pain, hurt, loss—those things do not change who God is or how he loves. He said no to my prayer, and maybe it broke his heart too.
This is faith. Trusting God when it hurts and doesn’t make sense. Trusting that he loves—that he understands the frail needs of the weak human heart.
So, what do you do when the story doesn’t have a happy ending? You hold on. Hold on to God with all your broken heart and don’t let go.