Losing a parent is tough. Having to make arrangements and get everything in order on your own can be even tougher. Dealing with loss is hard on it’s own, but in our society losing a loved one also means handling all of their affairs that weren’t left in order if their death was sudden. It can be a very difficult time, especially if you have to do it alone. This woman was prepared to handle the stress and the paperwork of handling her father’s affairs, but she was NOT prepared for that distinct form of loneliness that followed. When she opened the door to her father’s apartment, this changed her life forever…
When my father was dying, I traveled a thousand miles from home to be with him in his last days. I soon discovered that even when you know what’s going to happen, there’s still no way to really prepare for such an event. It was far more heartbreaking that I’d anticipated, and one of the most difficult and painful times in my life.
After he passed away, I stayed alone in his apartment. There were so many things to deal with: arrangements to be made, mounds of paperwork to sort through, bills to pay, belongings to pack, meetings with real estate agents and lawyers, etc. Weeks passed; it all seemed absolutely endless. I was completely overwhelmed and unbearably lonely. I hated the utter silence of the apartment; how could rooms so full of furniture still feel so empty?
One evening I heard crying outside. I opened the door and found a little gray kitten on the steps. He was scrawny, beat up, and pretty pathetic looking all huddled around himself. I remember thinking that he looked the way that I felt. I brought him inside and gave him an old can of tuna. He gobbled it up and fell asleep on the kitchen floor before I could move him.
The next morning I asked the neighbors if anyone had been missing a kitten. They said they had seen it around and that it must have been abandoned by a tenant who had moved out recently. This little kitten was all alone, just like me. I walked back to the apartment and tried to figure out what to do with him. Having something else to take care of seemed like too much to think about, but as soon as I opened the door, he came running down the hall and jumped into my arms. It was clear that he felt at home with me, and in that moment I decided to keep him. Just until I went back home, I told myself. I named him Willis after an old friend of my dad’s.
From then on, things got easier. I still had meetings and errands and phone calls to put my father’s affairs in order, but I was no longer returning to a lonely apartment. Instead, I was greeted with wild enthusiasm and an abundance of affection. Even when I spent hours on the phone, Willis was there in my lap, purring while I stroked his fur. His crazy kitten antics had me laughing for the first time in weeks, and his companionship changed everything. I don’t know how I could have gotten through those weeks without him.
When it was finally time to return home, I knew that I couldn’t leave him behind. I still had a thousand miles to drive in the car, and I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle such a long trip. But he surprised me. He never cried or tried to scratch anything. He curled up on the back seat and slept for most of the trip. I think that he somehow knew we were going home. He knew that he was family.
It’s now been several years since my father passed, and the scrawny little kitten has grown to be a 12-pound cat, handsome as can be. Over the years, people have commented that I was nice to have rescued him, but the truth is that we rescued each other. I may have given him a home, but he gave me something better. Willis taught me to trust. Even in the darkest times, we should never lose heart, and never despair. Just when I needed it most, an angel appeared. Only instead of wings, my angel came with four legs and a fur coat.
Animals are truly amazing! They have a way of being there for you that some people just can’t compare to. They know when you’re sad, they know when you need them, and the loyalty that they provide is very comforting. This cat was there for her just as she was there for this cat. It’s a touching and beautiful story that needs to be heard by everyone! There is always hope!
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