I got home from playing softball last night to find an empty house. Almost every time I come home, without fail, Steve is there to greet me at my apartment door with a leg rub or an excruciatingly painful bite/scratch combo to show the undying love he possesses for me. I usually return the favor by bleeding on myself.
Despite the masochistic tendencies that I display by keeping Steve, I was sorely disappointed to find that he was gone. Will can attest to the fact that I pretty much sat on the couch for the whole night, even falling asleep for the night without going to my own bed - I couldn't sleep in my bed without missing that furry little terror curled up by my knees. I wondered if I would ever see him again, if I should keep his food bowl and litter box in their exact positions for an indefinite amount of time, in case he ever decided to come back. My future was looking bleak and desperate. No amount of falsetto beckoning in my front lawn could bring him back from the abyss that is the outside world.
Sleep was anything but restful last night. My dreams were filled with the memories that I have of spending time with Steve - The times Eric's dog nearly killed him when he was just a kitten, the time he scratched my coworker's face in a fit of rage, the times where he would seem completely content with his beloved owner petting him right before unleashing the adorable fury of razor sharp claws and carnivorous teeth on my surgically repaired thumb. Every so often, I would be blindsided with a premonition that he would be hit by a moving car or stray Price Hill bullet and I woke up hyperventilating in a terrifying cold sweat. Peace inside my soul was a far-fetched yearning; a pipe dream in a fantasy world.
The morning came with an abundance of reality. The realization that I was alone in this world. You can go through the motions, but without motivation, the motions are anything but theraputic. Once again, I yearned for the days when Steve wouldn't leave me alone until I fed him. I prepared for the worst of days.
Will didn't have to work until later today, so he slept in a little bit. As I was still reeling from the agonizing night previous, he offered a ray of hope!
"Hey man, last night I heard a bunch of meowing and a cat fight outside. I think Steve is still pretty close to the house"
While this news was encouraging, I took it with a grain of salt, but held on with every ounce of strength I could muster. I couldn't stand to be disappointed once again.
With this last bit of soulful fortitude, I managed my way out to the front door of my house. I called for Steve, and there was nothing. The chirping morning birds and generally refreshing morning were lost on me as I remained under the proverbial rain cloud. half-heartedly, I trudged through my house to the back door to try once more. I knew the pain of regret would be unbearable if I did not lift my soul from underneath my feet and make one final effort to entice him back with the promise of a better, more comfortable life. I promised myself that if I got him back, I would never take his presence for granted again. I attempted to make a deal with God. I wished it was me that was lost, anything to aleviate the amount of suffering that I knew Steve was enduring at that very moment.
At that point, calling Steve was nearly impossible. My vocal chords were strained from the inevitable unconcious sleep screaming I had engaged in only hours before. Nonetheless, I tried. I tried twice. I tried thrice. I collapsed in the fetal position trying to hold back tears to no avail. I rocked back and forth in agony for my Steve, my precious Steve. I don't know how or why, but in that very instant I felt alive again! I opened my saltwater eyes to a glorious sight! It was Steve! He was running toward me with love in his eyes and a ray of golden sunshine beaming from his face. I turned to face him and he jumped into my arms in one moment of blissful embrace! Oh sweet Joy!
My Joy was so abundant for my prodigal Steve. He who was lost had now been found! I prepared the best bowl of cat food ever to celebrate the return of my only cat. He told me stories of his torrid night in the wild as I lay him down for rest. We laughed and cried together for what seemed like days, but it was only about 10 minutes because I had to go to work. As I leaned to kiss his head to show my love, he affectionately bit the living daylights out of my thumb again, and that's when I knew we'd both be ok.