Jo Ann Jaacks: Searching for gratitude and happy endings

Darlin' settles in for a nap, after her adventure in the great outdoors.

Eight days after moving into my new apartment, I awoke to find that my kitten had disappeared. Darlin’ wasn’t happy to be uprooted from the home she had known for five months, refusing to eat or speak (she’s always been very vocal).

I conducted a thorough search, opening every cabinet, behind the refrigerator, under the beds and within the box springs of beds and sofa, every carton not yet emptied of its contents. Exhausted, I realized the only place I had not investigated was the creepy little attic that lurked behind a latched door in the finished area of the loft. The door took some muscle power to swing open. I poked my head into the dark space, called my kitten’s name and, receiving no response as expected, began to back out, avoiding low ceilings, nails and cobwebs. Then I heard the faintest of mewing from the darkest, lowest end of the garret, just beyond the plywood boards that were safe to walk on.

I immediately called in reinforcements — the local volunteer fire department. Five first responders, trained in search and rescue, gathered in the tiny attic space, now covered with plates of cat food, toys and blankets with human scent, all with the intent to entice a kitten to emerge. That did not happen, but I was assured that cats who get into tight spaces eventually find a way out.

The next morning, after another fruitless search throughout the apartment, I called the fire department again. The Chief himself came over with a borrowed piece of expensive equipment that could see through walls. For an hour, he used this tool, plus a stethoscope to listen against walls, throughout the entire property, including the crawl space. He told me he was convinced Darlin’ was no longer in the house.

The temperature was now dropping and thinking about my poor little kitten left to fend for herself in a neighborhood with coyotes and black bears was heartbreaking. I posted on Facebook, with the radio station, notified the local pound to BOLO my kitten, accepted a friend’s generous offer to provide a pet psychic, and thanked many friends for their prayers and positive vibes.

I received a message from a couple I have never met, who insisted they wanted to help me search door to door, backyard to backyard, at daylight. I eagerly accepted this offer and met them at the little town green where I live and we split up to cover opposite sides of my road. For some reason, I didn’t knock on doors of the first two homes, instead crossing to the opposite side where there was a vintage barn/garage. The owner came to the door before I knocked, giving me permission to search her property. When I opened the barn door, I didn’t need a pet psychic to tell me what I felt in my bones. I called out my kitten’s name and heard a muted cry high above my head. I looked up to see my Darlin’ staring down at me and an instant later, jumping into my arms.

I am forever grateful to all the helpers and supporters, but especially for this couple’s love and inspiration. The husband said “God is the only one who can see through all walls and guide us where we need to be.”

Clinging to me for dear life, the first thing my kitten did was run up the staircase and jump onto her “couch” in the loft. Although facing the loss of what you love most is terrifying, sometimes change can be welcoming even when challenging — as though sent by angels. You have to be careful with the things you love.

Connecticut Media Group