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Letting the Cat Out of the Shelter...and Into Our Hearts

The other morning, after a night of having company over, Autumn said:

“I wish Uncle Jeff could live with us.” And then, after a beat, she continued.

“And Keke and Reena. And we could all live together. Or they could live next door.”

I understood. Having NanaPapa and cousins, aunts and uncles in our house creates a different atmosphere, from a sleepy coffee shop to a hopping fiesta, not loud and crazy, but So. Very. Alive. She’s a people person, my daughter, one with only one people living with her. As a result, Autumn created Sofie, a faux sister with an extensive history and active lifestyle. When her cousins went to Portugal, she said:

“My sister Sofie is in Portugal, too!”

When we’re eating dinner, she excuses herself to answer her phone:

“Sorry, Sofie, we’re eating dinner.”

And when we’re at any park, she points to any house:

“That’s where Sofie lives.”

One day, I asked her whether she wanted a real sister.


Another day, several weeks later, I asked about her future family.

“I’m going to have a real sister,” she said. I explained I’d need to have another baby.

“Let’s do that then. And make sure it’s a girl.”

Realistically, I could – tell the embryologist, of my five embryos left, to defrost the girl and, during the next nine months, gather a crib and swing, pump and bottles. Scrounge garage sales and marketplace for newborn onesies and sunhats, bouncy seats and playpens.

But also, realistically, that sounds impossibly exhausting and incredibly insane. It was a big deal to give birth at 43, and while many have babies much later, I will not be one of them. I’ve thought about which limited resource was the main reason Autumn will remain an only, but have called it a three-way tie among Money, Energy, and Time. It is, simply, not in my cards.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a full house.

Because when the Universe speaks, I listen. And, for example, when Autumn was born on 4/21 at 4:21 pm, it was a sign I followed the right path. Similar to when I perused the available cats at the shelter around the block after Autumn briefly mentioned wanting one, and found an incredible surprise. I texted my mom the link:

“Look! There’s one named Nancy!” To which she responded:

“And a Papa and a Jill!”

I had failed to scroll down, but sure enough, there she was. Several cats below the one with my mom’s namesake sat a little black cat with my name on it. Days later, when we went to the shelter, I felt divinely guided.

“We’re here to see Jill,” I announced, like she was the head of the mafia – powerful and important and, by association, so, too, were we.

Needless to say, the previous night must’ve been a long one for Jill, as she lay motionless in the corner of Room 2. Perhaps we weren’t meant to go home with her, but she was rather the draw to bring us to the shelter.

And several days later, we rescued Cocoa Puff. I never wanted a cat. I never even liked cats. But now, I have a cat. And Autumn has a pet, Tod has a friend, and I have three dependents – not in the way I imagined, but the way the Universe delivered. As it does when you follow the signs.

Welcome home, Girl. In just 21 days, you’ve brought laughter and joy, friendship and love. We can’t imagine our family without you.

And when asked what Sofie would think of Cocoa, Autumn responded:

“Oh. She has a doctor’s check-up Monday, and then she’s coming over to meet her afterward.”

Mommy On.

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