The kindness of strangers
Our cat Paisley had a favourite sleeping spot -- smack dab in the middle of the Periwinkle and Ivy on our hilly front garden. Every day I'd come home from work and there's she'd be, sitting in the sun. Her weight had created somewhat of a nest, depressed into the ground, that encompassed her small, silky body and on which no foliage would grow. She lay curled up in the middle of the hill as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Last night I had to say goodbye to Paisley curled up in a box.
It was after 11 when we had a call from animal services telling us that neighbours had seen Paisley hit by a car. They had taken off her collar and called with the registration number. Animal services gave us the neighbours' number so we could find out where Paisley was. I expected animal services to say they were coming to pick her up, but instead they said we needed to get her and put her in the freezer for the night and bring her in the next day (no comment).
D'Arcy called the neighbours, who we didn't know, and we walked timidly to the top of our street and around the corner where they directed us. It was the still of midnight: so quiet, so peaceful. D'Arcy was about 20 feet in front of me, carrying a box and towel and I was hanging back, hands clasped.
The couple who had been sitting on their porch when the accident happened were waiting.
"Poor Paisley" D'Arcy said as he dropped to the ground where Paisley lay, half on the street, half on the sidewalk, and put his hand on her.
The driver didn't stop, they said. They took off her city registration tag and ran back inside to call animal services. They came back with their cell phone to find Paisley dead and called friends of theirs who had cats to ask what they could do. They were as distraught as we were. We didn't know this couple but they knew Paisley, who they said enjoyed playing in their garden.
"We're so sorry" they kept saying. "We wish there was something we could do."
D'Arcy wrapped Paisley up and we placed her in the box. The couple pointed out their house and gave us their street number and encouraged us to come back if they could help or if we had any questions. They were strangers, but they were so kind, so consoling.
In a world that often seems cruel and competitive and impersonal, their actions were a reminder of the goodness in people.
We took Paisley to an all-night vet clinic so she could be cremated.
Paisley was our daughter Lucy's cat, and she and her sister were devastated. Ben slept through the event. When told this morning, he signed "no" over and over again.
He and his brother went off for two nights of camping with a few other children with disabilities and three adventurous workers.
One of them had just told me about a day recently when she was with Ben at home. He went upstairs and when she came up later she found him lying on our bed, patting Paisley. She loved to curl up in Ben's wheelchair on the porch. Nice memories.