on the curve right in front of my house. I know it was an accident. It happened to me once. I was driving in Vermont, on one of those straightaways where the speed limit was about 50. All of a sudden a cat came out of nowhere and fairly bolted right under the car. I didn't have time to react, and I will never ever forget how it felt. I stopped and went back and found the poor cat. It was dead. I felt terrible. My very curious two-year-old was in the car and I dreaded the questions that would come. And I felt really sad for the cat and for its family. I didn't know what to do. There was nobody around. So, I drove on. But I didn't stop thinking about it for a long time.
I wonder if you thought about Sky. If you wondered if she had a home. She did. We got her when she was a tiny five-week old kitten from the shelter. She had two brothers with her, and the idea was to take care of them until they were old enough to be adopted officially, but of course the official adopters turned out to be us. Sky was the prettiest—a tortoise-shell—and the feistiest. She had a little checkerboard pattern on her mouth that made her look a little bit like a court jester, though you'd never say that to her face.
She was not always the most affectionate. If someone got too close to her face, she might bat at them and even scratch them if they didn't back off. She was so mean to our Newfoundland that the huge burly dog would stay in the corner rather than cross paths with tiny Sky. It was a little tricky when we went on walks in the woods, because both of them liked to join us.
But Sky was also loving. She spent many afternoons in my studio, basking in the sun in my big orange chair. She would spread out on my keyboard—like all good cats—and let me rub her belly. She was happy, and purred loudly. If I went up without her, I would see her prowl around the paddock, balancing on the rail to see if she could find any mice or voles down below. She'd meow at me to let her in when she was tired, or climb up onto the window screen. I'd give a short whistle and she'd reappear at the door. I loved her. She was my friend.
At first, since you, too, drove on, we didn't know what happened to Sky. I knew right away that something was wrong, because she always came right away when I whistled, and that night, she didn't come. I spent a long time whistling, walking up and down the street. Worried. We put up signs and talked to the neighbors, we imagined terrible beasts and hard feelings. We worried.
But, a kind neighbor found Sky in the ditch near our house. She wrapped her up and brought her to our house. We weren't home so she left a discrete note on the door. And then when we bumped into each other downtown, she told me what had happened. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. Because not knowing makes it all ten times worse. Wondering if I just put up more signs, or talked to more people, or went whistling on more long walks, if there was just something more I could do to find her, is like slow torture.
We buried Sky yesterday near her favorite paddock. It really helped to be able to say goodbye, as we told stories about her, and cried.
So next time, dear driver, leave a note. Even if you don't know where the cat came from, leave a note at the closest house you see. We neighbors talk to each other. I won't blame you. I know how it happens. And if you want to take it easy coming around that curve, that wouldn't hurt either. My kids walk on that street, too.