Turning 9...

It was the day before Easter eight years ago, and I was at the pet store where the cat adoption folks were showing off all the furballs available to take home. I had been thinking about getting a cat- I had wanted one for ages- but I hadn't really gone into the store expecting to come home with a cat.

But then I saw Aria.

She was about a year old, abandoned as a teen mom, and found wandering next to a bowling alley. For the next seven months, she was in foster care. I know it sounds terribly corny, and no doubt it is, but when I saw her, I just knew that she was for me. I held her on my lap and snuggled her, buried my face into her velvet fur, while she froze almost in fright at this strange human who had picked her up.

I brought her home and she ran straight for the couch, and burrowed underneath. I didn't see her all that much for the next six months or so. Skittish even around me, she went bonkers at the sound of a male voice. The vet said Aria was likely abused or maltreated by someone male. If I ever find that person, I will punch him. Hard.

Slowly, she warmed to me. We became inseparable. About a year and a half after I adopted her, I left to go to treatment for seven months. The first three weeks, I cried myself to sleep every night because I missed her on my pillow. After I got out of the hospital (after the treatment stay), I promised her that I would never leave her again. I would never let myself get so sick that I had to leave her.

I never have.

It's something I don't know how to explain. It can only be called the power of love.

When I was in the supermarket parking lot the other day, I saw a pawprint car magnet that said "Who Rescued Who?" I think that's a really good question to ask. As much as I adopted Aria, she also adopted me. She's my best friend. She's one of the few people who loves yarn as much as I do. Her fur is about the same color as my hair. She has green eyes. I have green eyes.

Aria was also diagnosed with kitty OCD. I will likely have to start giving her Prozac.

No joke.

Like I said, we were made for each other.

I think back to all those months when so many people could have adopted Aria, when she was waiting at the pet store or at a stranger's house. I cannot understand how she didn't get adopted. She is stunningly beautiful, her fur is simple the softest thing I ever touched, and she was young. My mom said, "I think she was waiting for you."

I'm a scientist. I scoffed at the idea--I got lucky, real lucky. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe, just maybe, my mom was right. She was waiting for me, and I was waiting for her.

So Happy Eighth Gotcha Day and Happy Ninth Birthday, Aria (aka Fuzzy Bear, Babycakes, and Don't-you-scratch-the-couch-dammit!). Mommy lives you more than you will ever know.




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10 comments:

A:) said...

Aww Carrie, this is so sweet. I am definitely planning on getting a cat, although away from home as my dad is violently allergic. I think it will help me with my anxiety and recovery once I move into my own apartment.

A

hm said...

Do you find that the more you recover, the more room you have (psychologically) to consider more than just science in life? I wonder if recovery permits open/free thought. In the midst of disorder, where black-and-white thinking reigns supreme, anything "gray" feels almost dangerous.

Anyway, happy birthday to your sweet Aria. You are both lucky to have found each other. :)

Jen said...

this is beautiful and I relate so much to it. not to diminish all of the work that I have done for myself, but sometimes I wonder if I would even be alive if I didn't have my two cats. the bond we have gives me a purpose on days when I can't find any other.

extralongtail said...

Such a lovely post :) I absolutely know that my cats have helped me in my recovery.

It's part the responsibility thing (we have to be well to look after our furball...) - and part the distraction thing (if we are overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts we can focus instead on our cats).

None of what you wrote sounds at all 'corny'... I feel totally full of love when I see my cats and fuss over them. And it's lovely when they reciprocate that love - which they do!

Katie said...

I just want to go "aawwwwwww"! I'm very glad you and Aria found each other :) animals played a big part in my recovery too - my dalmatians were so comforting to hug when I was anxious. I need another dog! Long may you and Aria be happy together.

Angela E. Gambrel said...

Happy Birthday, Aria!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I have to say awwwww as well! :) I wish I could have animals (allergies prevent me and current living situation). About a year ago, I remember watching on the local news about pets that were trained to help people with mental health issues, and they profiled someone with depression and anxiety (if I remember correctly). I know when I have been in the hospital and there has been 'pet therapy,' even if I was horribly depressed, the animal would light up my world.

Carrie Arnold said...

Anon,

The IP psych unit where I was at did have pet therapy once. One of the dogs was really big and kind of scared me (I was super anxious and depressed and couldn't handle him) but the smaller one and I got along great. I really felt the mood of the room lighten.

My one therapist had a therapy dog. One session, the pup laid his head on my lap and drooled and got my pants all soggy. The other time (and he was just a puppy, unfixed) he tried to hump my foot. ;)

Hayleigh Kicks said...

Made for a lovely read, thank you for sharing.
I wish you the best of luck on the long road to recovery xx

Molly Koch said...

i truly love this little story and i was so touched by how Aria rescued you!! I think people underestimate the power of pets. I know my dog and kitty have helped me through some incredibly difficult times. I don't know what i'd do without them! Happy birthday aria!!!!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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