Black as coal, the tiny cat appeared suddenly at our back
door. “We’re not taking in any strays,” my husband, Gary, vowed.
Three days later I caught Gary feeding the scrawny kitten from
his own cereal bowl. We had a new family member and we called
The cat fit right in, but on his own
terms. We held weekly prayer services in our parlor, and Kennedy
greeted everyone like a church deacon. We always kept his bowl
full, yet he insisted on cruising the neighborhood for handouts.
Our kids started calling him Fat Boy. Christmas morning he’d
investigate every package under the tree. He’d play all morning
in the discarded wrapping paper until he found an empty box to
But as unexpectedly as Kennedy arrived, he disappeared one
September day. We checked all his usual haunts. No one had seen
That December I just couldn’t get into the spirit of
things. Christmas morning Gary started a big fire and I made the
coffee before the kids got up. I couldn’t bear looking at the
spot beneath the tree where Kennedy used to frolic. “God,” I
prayed, “I’ve asked you for so much, but never anything like
this. Please, could I have my sweet kitty, Kennedy, back?”
The children ran downstairs. Before long the living room
was knee-deep in wrapping paper, bows and ribbons. But it wasn’t
the same without Kennedy.
That night after the children went upstairs to bed, Gary
and I sat down in the kitchen for a last cup of coffee. I heard
a scratching at the window. I got up and peered into the
darkness. Gary threw open the door. Kennedy hit the porch deck
on all fours and sashayed in as if he had only been gone for a
I raced upstairs to wake the
children. God had saved the best present for last.