A Gift From The Dead

Christmas day of 2022, we lost our beloved black lab, Rodeo, after she lost her fight with cancer. Rodeo was an old girl who was stubborn in her ways. Rodeo loved her food, and she had her place in every room of the house and would not let anyone else in her spot. It broke my heart when Rodeo passed. From the day she came to live with us, Rodeo was my work buddy and would sit next to me every day during my work shifts and follow me through the house wherever I went, including the bathroom. I used to joke with my co-workers she knew just as much about our calls as we did.

Well, a little over three months after she passed away, we received our gift from Rodeo. After I had got off of work, I started to do some chores and went to take out the garbage. When I opened the door, I heard a meow, and one of our local strays we feed named Oreo was sitting at the bottom of the stairs next to a fluffy orange ball. It's not uncommon for Oreo to bring us gifts such as a mouse or a squirrel, but when I put the garbage down, I found the orange ball was a tiny kitten. She was no more than 4-6 weeks old. This little kitten had dried-up insulation and wood chips all over her. I picked her up, and she cuddled into me as she tried to meow.

I looked around, thinking she must have gotten lost from her mama, but Mom was nowhere to be seen. I tucked her into my sweatshirt, took the garbage to the dumpster, and then realized she was asleep in my arms. I returned home, sat on the patio, and tried to remove the insulation and wood chips from her fur. I asked her, "What to do with you?"

At that moment, from inside the house, almost to answer my question, I heard a bark Rodeo's bark. I needed a cage and kitten food, so I went to a neighbor's house to borrow the items as she always had them on hand. I found my partner and said, "I think we have a new kitten."

I was already in love with this little orange ball of fluff who curled up in my arms and fell asleep. When he took her from my arms, he fell in love with her and made sure we had everything we needed for her. We brought her into the house, and the dogs and cats looked at us as if they knew we were adding another furry member to our family. We named her JJ after my partner's mom, and for the next month and a half, she was with me for everything. She slept next to us in a cage, and we had to arrange playtime so we could put up the dogs. She flourished and grew. We think her mom may have abandoned her size and being so tiny. But as JJ grew, I noticed something. While playing, she would stop, look up, and rub her head against something I couldn't see. I felt like Rodeo was there telling JJ, this is your chance and checking on her.

JJ has so many of Rodeo's mannerisms and quirks. She follows me around everywhere and has to be next to me. She loves her food and will meow at me when I am slow at getting her food, just like Rodeo used to bark. JJ will sit in my lap while I work or sit on a corner of my desk while I take calls. When she doesn't think I am around, I see her interacting with something I can't see, rubbing her face and standing on her legs to reach up to what would be Rodeo's height. 

Rodeo has physically been gone from us for over nine months now, and I still miss her so much. Rodeo came into my world for a small amount of time, but she stole my heart. I have seen her out of the corner of my eye while I work or cook. I believe Rodeo had a hand in bringing JJ into our lives to help us with the loss of her. So Rodeo, thank you for sending me my orange ball of chaos, and know that she will never replace you.