For years, my husband told me, “You’re the love of my life. Nothing you do could ever make me leave you.”
Then he met someone else, and it was over. As promised, it was nothing I had done.
It had been the second marriage for both of us, and he had come with young daughters, a daunting prospect for me as someone who had grown up in a difficult family and sworn off having children of my own. But they soon joined their father in my heart.
I brought my two cats, who had no experience with children. The girls tried to pet them, only to be rewarded with a claw impaled in a hand, then tears. Two years on, we moved to a new apartment in Brooklyn. The first night found the cats snuggled in the girls’ bunk beds. I finally relaxed.
When the girls wanted a kitten of their own, my unease returned. At the local shelter, a place notorious for euthanizing animals soon after they arrived, my husband filled out paperwork while I accompanied the girls to the cat room. Immediately, their attention was drawn to a solitary kitten with dark fur, shaking in a cage.
The attendant unlatched the door and in a flash the kitten was in the girls’ arms. When they tried to put her back, the kitten spread her limbs like a starfish to block the door. I noticed the sign on her cage — “Female. Approx. 8 weeks. Found Flatbush Ave.” At checkout, the attendant noted she was under the minimum two pounds required for adoption, but, knowing the alternative, he popped her in a cardboard box and handed her over.
The girls named her Tigerlily, for a character in “Kung Fu Panda.” They played with her all weekend, but on Sunday night they returned to their mother’s house, while the kitten stayed in their bedroom, quarantined until her parasites were eradicated.