Something’s gone wrong, something’s changed.
My heart breaks. He’s back. I’m so, so sad for him, I’m gutted to find him once again in the same situation, it’s not fair. Since June last year, all through the summer he was a regular visitor, part of our tribe. He turned up suddenly, simply appeared one day, thin, scraggy, wary, starving and I fed him, began to make friends with him. I wrote about it in a post before this, how his story began, which became our story and seems destined to continue.
It became routine, him coming twice every day to be fed; often hanging around, on the grass, in the greenhouse, but he would eventually disappear, but always return the next morning. One day, out of the blue, he didn’t show and I was so worried. But the next day he was back, as if nothing had happened. A week or so went by, then he missed again, but showed the next day. I thought he seemed a bit softer, as if he’d been brushed; his ears seemed a little cleaner. My hopes rose; someone else had become aware of him and willing to help him. This went on for a while, a few weeks, him skipping odd days, occasionally two, but he’d always turn up and seemed fine.
Eventually the days he missed got longer, three, four, then finally a week. I worried a little, but it really seemed he had somewhere to go, was being welcomed somewhere. I was so pleased; I adored him but mine did not make it easy and I’d been getting worried how he would cope come the turning of the year, when the weather made it so much harder for strays. It wasn’t too bad during the summer; he was fed, knew he had regular meals when he turned up, warm spots on the grass, a soft bed in the greenhouse, not too bad, but once the temperature dropped and the rain, wind, snow, frost and ice came, that’s a totally different situation, so much harder. So of course I was hopeful this might continue, that someone had opened their home to him. It seemed so, otherwise he would still be coming, he had for so long; he knew he was welcome.
It seemed my suspicions were confirmed, for a day came when he did not return. I was glad, if a little sad, glad for him, he deserved it so much and I was relieved, I wouldn’t have to worry about him through all that awful, harsh weather.
I kept looking for a long time, it had become habit, always glancing out for his familiar figure, like a little Buddha, waiting, patiently, every time; no sound, no demands, simply a calm sitting, waiting, something knowing in his eyes. But for months he disappeared, there was no sign of him and I got used to looking and him not being there, slowly accepted he’d gone. I silently wished him well, hoped he was happy, that’s all that mattered to me.
One day in November when we were out tidying the garden for Bonfire Night, there he was, just sitting on the wall at the end of the garden, staring at me, as if he’d never been away. Pleasantly surprised I could hardly believe it was him; he looked so well, so good. He had put weight on, he was soft, a fluffy ginger powder puff, it was beautiful to see. He’d come for a visit and I was so pleased to see him. For old time’s sake I offered him a nibble, which he accepted, then hung around, just because he wanted to and I told him it was so lovely to see him, I was so happy for him and he was welcome any time. He stayed for a while, then wandered off, almost as if he’d just popped in to say hello and maybe, goodbye. He’d made his choice, but had returned to see me. It was such a sweet moment and I felt so happy; he looked amazing, had obviously found someone who cared about him, spoilt him, all by himself. I was so touched; knowing he was cared for, safe, wouldn’t have to face the winter streets, though I would’ve done my best to find him a home, but now it seemed he was safe, I no longer had to worry about him.
So it went on, month after month; I always thought about him, wondered where he was, if he was possibly even close, cosy in a house in the next street. It was so good to think of him warm, cosy, safe, happy and well fed. I thought that was the end of the story. He made his very odd, rare visits, but that was it, he was settled. It was good to have helped him on his journey, but now it was done, he was home.
But, sadly, it seems our story is not done. Sadly, it appears this is no longer the case. One day last week I noticed him in the greenhouse, even though it was very cold. At first, simply happy to see him again I didn’t think anything of it, he’d do so on odd occasions before, though he did seem to want food, which he hadn’t asked for, for a long time. I thought maybe he got caught out in the weather going home, missed his breakfast. But unfortunately it seems something has gone wrong, something has changed; poor ginge seems to be back on the streets again. He has been here most of the week, so, so hungry, every day. The clincher was when I peeped through the curtains one unbelievably frosty, freezing morning, icy fog swirling around, haunting the morning, thick frost and ice everywhere and there by the steps, down the path, was ginge, huddled up, in the freezing air, just waiting, waiting for some food. He has begun to look less soft, his fur has seeds, splinters in it, as if he is outside most of the time and a day ago I noticed he had a sore bit on the side of his face, below his ear. Something obviously is not right.
I can never know what’s gone on, if something has happened to whoever cared for him, you can go over and over it and I have, I can’t help it, but it’s pointless, I will never know, only that it’s incredibly sad and obvious he needs help again. Luckily he remembered this place and knew to come here, to take the risk it would still be welcoming to him, which it is, even my two have been surprisingly tolerant which has surprised but pleased me; even not liking him they have shown no signs of aggression or intolerance, as if they sense his need, his desperate situation, his bad luck. I feel so sorry for him, I think it’s almost worse to have experienced a home and then lost it again, to have that relief of somewhere to always go back to, to be welcomed, to be loved, then to lose it again, be shut out and have to return to the cold, hard streets alone, struggling, constantly moving around. He seems simply resigned to it, just getting on with it, but there is a sadness in his eyes; maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m reading that into him, but there seems a haunting resignation to him and it makes me so sad. So, here we are again; ginge take two. (I only use that as I mull and wait for a good name for him; it takes time to feel out the right name, worthy and suitable for a certain character and his has not spoken to me yet) He still seems edgy, wary; I thought if he has been in a home since the end of the summer he may be getting more used to people, but then again, for whatever reason he’s alone again, on the streets again, so that can’t help him trust people any. Maybe he never even had a ‘proper’ home, like I believed, imagined, just someone who looked out for him and he hung around, maybe that’s all it ever was and now they’ve gone, but as I said, who knows; because he is still edgy, wary, got that slight wildness about him, unnerved by sudden movements, sounds, doesn’t really seem to want me to touch him, though he lets me stroke him softly now, for a while, only a while, and only down his back, which is nice, I don’t want to push it, I don’t know what’s happened to him, what he’s been through, so I’ll go softly, softly for now, see how things go. I just want to bundle him up and bring him in, but it’s not possible, he has his way, there is that resistance, that distance that takes time and patience, that wariness, that says so far and no further, and he’s not ready for that yet, if he ever will be; but he keeps coming back, so the longer he does, the more he’ll get used to me, the more hopefully he will let his barriers down.
I leave the door ajar, even when my two see him, I can do that now, which is amazing, they seem to simply accept he’s there, needs a meal and let him be, they have a little grumble but allow him space. Even though I leave the door open he doesn’t come in; he sits a while, after his meal, washing, looking at the door, but always wanders away; sometimes disappearing suddenly, quickly, once he’s eaten; I look he’s there, another blink, gone, nowhere to be seen. On a morning after he’s eaten, he disappears, but mostly comes back, inevitably ending up snoozing on the chair in the greenhouse, getting up at the end of the afternoon for another meal, before disappearing again. I don’t know where he goes all night, but I think of him out there. Who knows where our story will end? We both have our challenges, but seem connected somehow. He has come into my life for a reason, not once, but twice, so who knows where this will end, what we’re meant to share, to learn from each other; only time will tell.
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