Kitty came back! She arrived in a Kohl’s box, of all things, and was delivered by UPS to HG’s (my grandson) front door. Imagine our astonishment; it was a miracle! Gathered around her, breathless with excitement, we pummeled her with questions. “Where have you been? On a quest? On a perilous mission? Were you frightened? What wonders did you behold? Tell us. Tell us now,” we begged her. My grandson’s eyes were shining as he hugged Kitty. They whispered together for some minutes, and then he said, “Kitty has asked me to translate. Here is the story of her big adventure, just as she told it to me. . .”
There I was . . on the train with my family, returning from a Thanksgiving holiday in the mid-west. I was almost asleep when the train suddenly screeched to a stop to let off passengers and pick up new ones. Everyone piled out to play in the snow, so I joined them, bashing people right and left with snowballs. It was jolly good fun. Suddenly, everyone disappeared. I heard the whistle blow, and the train started rolling down the tracks. I became frantic and lunged up to grab hold of the bars outside the windows of my family’s compartment. I shouted and shouted at the top of my lungs, but they couldn’t hear me. I clamored frantically up the side of the train and dropped down through a hole in the roof—landing straight into a laundry bag of bed linens! Before I could make my escape, I was swiftly hurled into a giant washing machine with a load of dirty sheets.
I finally freed myself, shook off the water, and glanced into a mirror. Although I looked the same on the outside (except for being cleaner), I was a different kitty on the inside. All the love of HG had been washed away, and I became hollow again—like any ordinary, stuffed toy. You see, when I had his love I never felt hollow; I was real and alive.
I was determined to find my way home. I hit the road and started house-hiking: going to all the homes of my Gaga’s friends. I overheard their conversations and knew that my absence had gone viral on Facebook; everyone seemed to be looking for me. But my “love-marks” were my identifying features, and with those washed out of me, I was no longer recognizable. Plus, I had fashioned a new collar for myself as a disguise to avoid being picked up by the pound. Alas. No one will know who I am now. What was I going to do? I just had to get back to HG.
Bingo. . . A Kohl’s delivery truck appeared; I had an idea. Hopping aboard, I soon found myself at their shipping center. I let myself be put on a shelf with other stuffed animals, but I had an ingenious plan. I knew that HG’s mom had ordered another kitty from Kohl’s (one that looked like me), hoping to console him with an identical replacement—as if that was even possible! I watched the computers carefully, and when I saw his name come up on the screen, I made my move. In a finger snap, I threw out the new kitty, jumped in and took her place. I curled up in the box, and we were soon on our way to Washington. Voila! The rest—as they say—is history.
Now, I’ve been asked by some, upon hearing of Kitty’s return, “Seriously, how did you all pull this off? Does he really believe this is his old Kitty? He knew his mom had ordered another Kitty out of a catalog, right?”
Here’s what I tell them. . . Of course, he believes his story, just as I believe all the stories I fabricate about my life on a regular basis. Who doesn’t do this? It’s how we work it all out. The only difference is his stories about life are more imaginative and optimistic than mine. Definitely, they are more interesting.
We each have our own movie rolling, and the constructs of our characters and plot lines are constantly shifting. Our stories change to accommodate those shifts. It’s a way we make sense of our lives as we try to understand and cope with being human. How these stories play out depends, in part, on the filters in our mind that we look through. Some people’s filters are cynical, murky, and pessimistic. That informs their views of the world. My grandson’s are in opposition to that. He sees his world through a soft heart and with love and loyalty. As Kitty said, “Without HG’s love, I am hollow. I’m a nobody-stuffed animal. But with his love, everything is possible.”
As we gather for Christmas, waiting for Santa tomorrow morning, our family is intact. Kitty has come home and has crawled back into the center of my grandson’s heart. I marvel at the imaginative and life-affirming choices my grandson made to cope with his loss and grief. It could have gone another way. He told me he learned a big lesson when Kitty went missing: It is important to not wait till nightfall to be sure she is okay, that he needs to check in with her throughout the day to be certain she is well and properly cared for. He keeps her pretty close these days. A lesson for us all. . .