It started out like any other normal day for me. Work, running some errands, then heading home...or at least that was my original plan. I stopped by a friend's house to drop off some things and noticed the cutest wreath I've ever laid eyes on. It was a wreath in the shape of a cat and when she said she just recently purchased it at Hobby Lobby, I knew I would have to stop by on my way home to get one for myself.
I've lived in Green Bay for over 11 years of my life, so I know where the stores are. In fact, when it comes to shopping, I'm a professional. Literally.
So that's what makes this story even more ironic.
I made a wrong turn going to the store. I wasn't distracted. I wasn't talking on the phone. I wasn't doing anything but driving up Oneida Street, heading to Hobby Lobby (just like I've done a million times). But instead of turning onto the correct road, I made the turn one street early which put me about a block away from my destination.
As soon as I did it, I realized the error and like I usually do when I'm in the car alone- I talked to myself. Well, in this case, yelled at myself with a few choice words for such a dumb mistake.
"Oh, SH#%." And just for good measure, "SH#%!" again.
Looking back, maybe there was some divine intervention that caused my momentary lack of direction. Because where do I find myself next? Pet Supplies Plus.
It was right there, so I figured what could it hurt if I just ran inside for a minute? Right?
Let me tell you, that minute turned into 45 which led to me bawling in the parking lot and adding to the family. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
In the summer, this particular store's back area was being transformed into one of the off-site adoption locations for the Wisconsin Humane Society-Green Bay Campus shelter. So I thought to myself: Self, let me just stop in and see if it's up and running.
Not anywhere on my radar was adopting another cat. Mr. Fuzzybottoms and I had been adjusting day by day to the L-A-H-B. Life-After-Hannah Baby. It has been a really emotional adjustment. After Hannah Baby's passing in June of last year, I just wasn't ready for another. I still think about her every day and it just didn't feel like it was the right time to even consider adopting another kitty.
That's part of the reason that I pulled my car into a vacant spot and felt good enough to walk through those doors and see the cats. I knew I was just going to snuggle a few and then I'd be on my way. Because I just wasn't ready.
Did I mention that I just wasn't ready?
That's exactly what I thought as I pulled open that door....and saw a ghost.
I saw my favorite ghost of all time. I saw my Hannah Baby. I stood there frozen, staring at the cage that housed a fluffy calico butt. The exact same fluffy calico butt markings. That's all I could see of that little furbaby and almost just as quickly I couldn't see anything at all because my eyes filled up with tears.
It was at that precise moment that one of the staff members also walked in and asked if she could help me. I couldn't even speak. I tried to wipe away the tears that now began a steady stream down my cheeks. This was not at all how my day was supposed to play out.
I turned my head to her and managed to choke out something inaudible like, "Um...no...I just... I'm not...I didn't..." I couldn't even make out words. It was amid all those stammerings that I figured this poor girl probably wanted to run out of the room and get away from the sobbing, crazy lady that stood before her.
So I tried to smooth over the situation by saying, "I'm not crazy. I swear. It's just that... She looks just like Hannah Baby..." And then I sobbed again.
I've never been more embarrassed to be recognized but thankfully she diffused the awkward situation by quietly saying, "It's ok. I know who you are." Then she sweetly added, "I'm sorry about your cat. It's really hard."
I wiped my face and took a deep breath and squeaked out a thank you, realizing that this poor girl didn't deserve to have to deal with my meltdown. So instead I looked back at the cage, just as the kitty was starting to turn around. I remember hoping that once I saw her face, I'd know for sure if I was the only one seeing this cat or if it really did exist.
She turned. I stopped breathing. She turned a little more. I bent down and put my hand up to her cage. I heard the girl say, "Don't be surprised if she doesn't come to you. She's really shy and nervous."
But she did. She came right up and started licking my hand and I got a good look at her face.
It really didn't matter. I was done for.
There was no way I couldn't adopt this sweetheart. Except for their faces, she was Hannah Baby's clone. It was crazy. And she was perfect.
"Patches" was a 4 year old little girl who was surrendered by her elderly owner when she became too ill to care for her. My heart broke for that person but at the same time, a little piece of mine mended itself.
I visited with her until it was time for them to close for the day but before I left, I leaned over and gave her a big smooch on the head and told her I'd be back for her.
I did come back. In a few days, "Duchess Ella Sofia Karina" settled into her new home. Her forever home with me and her new brother, Mr. Fuzzybottoms. Right where she belonged. Right where I think Hannah Baby wanted her to be.
What seemed like a random wrong turn changed my world that day. Sometimes in life, I think we are lead off the path we think we should be on. When that happens, don't be afraid to walk through that door. Have a good cry if you need to but then reach out, grab the handle, and step through. Because sometimes what's on the other side is exactly what we need.
When you are ready to add to your family, please adopt. There are thousands of animals out there all across the country just waiting to meet you and love you forever. There's a humane society, shelter, or rescue near you. You just have to look. If you do, what you find will rescue you right back. We just know it. So please, adopt. Don't shop.