The Cat that Brought Me Back

I haven't journaled much since the fire last October. Not because I haven't wanted to. I just couldn't.

So, I put the journal down and focused on my other work. Staying busy and not reflecting too much is my way of recovering from tragedy. I knew the someday I would be able to get back here. I just didn't know when.

Then in March, I met Sylvester. Despite the name, she's a girl. A black and white kitty that found herself trapped in the middle of a firestorm that destroyed everything in its path. She had belonged to by brother-in-law Pat, who lost his home in the tragedy. 

During the following weeks, we kept an eye out for her when sifting through the ruble. But she was nowhere to be found. There were no animals in the area that we could see. So we just tried not to think about it - not to think about her fate.

Then one day Pat received a phone call that she was alive - singed, dirty, thin, and with burned paws, but alive. The microchip that the vet had placed in her neck made the connection possible.

Pat was thrilled, but he didn't have a place for her to stay. He and his wife were now living in a one-room apartment with the two inside kitties. Sylvester, who had resided outside at the house, found herself odd cat out.

Pat arranged a temporary home for her while he tried to figure out what to do. During this time, she began her recovery. 

When I learned about Sylvester's amazing story from Pat, I wanted to photograph her. I thought she might be a good addition to my ongoing documentation about the firestorm and its aftermath. So I made an appointment at her temporary home and went for a visit.

When I got there, she was sleeping in a walk-in closet. I sat on the floor and asked her how she was doing. Her meow was funny. It was more like a lamb bleating than a cat. She came over to me, and I took her picture.

I just couldn't believe my eyes. The firestorm was fueled by 50 MPH winds that torn down the hill where Sylvester lived. It seemed impossible that any creature could outrun it. Maybe she found a place to hide. Maybe she sprinted for her life. I wish she could tell me. None of it seems possible.

Pat asked me if I wanted her. I didn't have a cat at home; Dibs lives at the studio. I talked it over with Theresa, and a week later Sylvester arrived at our house.

She is the happiest, most energetic animal I have ever owned. And she's the most athletic as well. Sylvester has unbelievable speed and jumping ability. That's probably why she's here.

Or maybe there's another reason. Maybe we need her as much as she needs us. That amazing cat is the one good thing that rose from those ashes. And she reminds me of that every morning that I feed her.

Sylvester has a home again. And now, thanks to her, I'm back as well.


Sylvester the Cat - This is the photograph of her that I captured back in March during my visit to her temporary home. By this time, her whiskers had grown back, and her paws had healed.