This is a story about a cat. Or rather, a lack of cat…
He was a slender black cat named Tom, with an angry glare, whom we adopted at six years old. Our little toddler was just learning to talk and in that strange way we double up on single syllable words for little humans, he became Tom-Tom.
When we moved to South Wales he came too and settled happily.
Ms Whiskers had waddled into our lives some years later, a round fluffy mixture of white, black and tortoiseshell, with an insanely loud meow! She adopted us, and given her heavily pregnant state, we took pity on her…
Eventually it became evident that there were no impending kittens, just a fat cat who now lived with us, much to Tom’s disgust. And when we moved to another address across town, she came too.
Six months ago my seven year old daughter and I moved back home to Devon, leaving the cats where they were settled.
Tom was an adventurous independent cat, who liked to wander. Ms Whiskers preferred the comfort of home.
One night, a few weeks ago, Tom didn’t come home for breakfast. His photo was circulated on social media and there were lots of calls from people with unknown black cats but none of the suspected Tom’s were our Tom.
Meanwhile, in Devon, I couldn’t shake the upsetting thought that he could be searching for us. After all, it’s hard to explain such changes to a cat.
My little girl expressed similar concerns so we decided to come back and look for him.
I booked trains and accommodation and off we went. I knew it was a long shot but sometimes the universe has a funny way of making things happen, so maybe, just maybe, if he wanted to be found we would find him.
And if he didn’t…
perhaps we could accept it.
The morning got off to a bad start as my sleep fogged brain attempted to make a decent coffee with nothing but filter papers. Everything kept falling through the bottom much to my frustration but after six attempts of using everything in the cupboards (colanders, bowls, mugs, spoons) I finally managed to get enough caffeine in me to start the day.
And so began the search.
It started on a positive note. Hopeful, calling his name but to no avail. Keeping things light and breezy for my little one.
In the afternoon I continued the search alone. I walked around the area peering into bushes and gardens, calling, crying. In the absence of my child, the brave face crumpled.
Unsure where to search next I was ready to head towards town for some food before deciding the next route, but as I passed the local charity shop I happened to see a cafetiere through the window and went in to buy it so I could at least have a palaver-free coffee!
Whilst waiting to pay my eyes drifted over the book display and a title jumped out at me: Close To Home. I felt a jolt, was this a sign for me? What did it mean? That I would find him close to home… Which home?
So instead of heading to town I went back and searched the area again, nothing.
So I walked to the town centre, bought some chips and ate them as I walked to the other side of town, to the previous address again.
All The Wrong Cats.
I saw a few cats along the way, each time my heart leapt. More so when I came across a small black one who stared me right in the eye. I stared back and said, out loud, in a slightly accusing tone, You’re not Tom!
Had that cat been able to speak, no doubt he would have replied, indignantly, I never said I was, lady!
I had been walking for hours, and despite my assurances that it would be ok if we didn’t find him, that we would accept that as a sign that he didn’t want to be found, I began to feel very dejected. I just wanted to find him!
My feet hurt, I couldn’t stop crying, I didn’t know where else to look. I knew I had to end the search but I couldn’t bear to.
My mind strayed again to the words on the book, close to home, it felt like it meant something but what? Was it really nothing? Finally on a desperate whim I typed it into google…
An address popped up!
I knew the road, I knew the house. No obvious connection, just a care home. I had passed it many times.
With nothing to lose and no better ideas, I headed that way, taking mini detours along the way, until finally I arrived and shuffled sadly into the drive.
I saw it immediately.
My first morel! I had been wanting to find one, actively searching in fact but it was the furthest thing from my mind on this particular day. Until that moment.
I almost laughed out loud!
Because, I know it sounds crazy but, in that moment I knew the search was over and that somehow it was ok.
I know, I know! Believe me, I do know that cats and mushrooms are very different and not interchangeable in any way! I know that.
And I’m not so shallow that I just thought woo a mushroom! and suddenly the cat didn’t matter anymore.
I suppose there’s no way to explain it logically. It’s beyond logic, as we understand it. It was more of a feeling, but a strong one. A sense of peace and reassurance.
It was time to go home.
Of course, some will read this and think I’m batshit crazy, and for those people no explanation could suffice.
But others will understand, and for those no explanation is needed.
I’m still sad, of course. I miss Tom and always will. I hope he’s happy where he is, in this world or another.
Thanks for reading, sorry if this post seems off-topic but isn’t everything connected? and if it is, I’m beginning to suspect that Fungi may be the key….
Happy Foraging Foodies!
Update 20th June 2019:
I have just received news that Tom has been found, safe and well!
He has found himself a new home with an elderly lady, and appears to be happy and content. 😊