Hope From Above
The year 2014 was bleak, filled with a series of heartbreaking events. More sadness in one year than I’ve seen in the 37 years I had been alive.
Towards the end of 2013, I had been having intermittent joint pain that had become worrisome. During the first week of 2014, I had my first rheumatologist visit. By the time my birthday rolled around in March, I had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive and chronic auto immune disease. By summertime, my health was pretty good and I was learning a lot about managing RA with diet, supplements and exercise rather than taking potentially dangerous medication. But I still felt depressed about my future.
I was looking forward to a trip up north to my mom’s beach house for the 4th of July. My sisters were going and my mom would be there. My husband, Anthony, had time off of work around the fourth, so we were going to head up early with our boys for some much needed R & R. We arrived Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, my sister called to tell me that our mom was at the ER and needed emergency surgery. We left right away. She passed away the next day, her car still filled with the new toys she had bought our kids to play with up north.
The rest of the summer was a blur. The first week of August I took an early morning bike ride. During the ride, I had what I can only explain as an epiphany. Anthony’s parents were getting their house ready to sell. They had renovated and moved into an old farm house behind it. I had an overwhelming feeling that we needed to buy that house. Anthony wasn’t on board right away, but after going through pros and cons and running numbers, we decided to buy it. We moved in Labor Day weekend.
Early in September, we got news that my grandma (my mom’s mom) had passed away. It wasn’t a surprise, she had dementia and a number of other health problems and had been declining for over a year. It was very sad for me, as I felt comfort just being with her after my mom died. But, I was happy that she was able to join my grandpa and her two kids who passed before her in the afterlife with no more pain. It was around this same time that my grandpa (my dad’s dad) was put in hospice. He had been fighting Colon cancer for 3 years and it was starting to spread. We’d be lucky if he lived to see Christmas.
Shortly after my grandma passed, our cat Milo got lost. He was an indoor/outdoor cat and had ventured out cautiously at the new house. We figured he’d be back but after the 3rd day we were really worried. I learned that cats can easily become displaced and I figured something spooked him and he lost his barrings. We searched endlessly for him, putting up fliers and walking around the surrounding neighborhoods. After about 3 months we stopped looking. My boys were upset and often wondered if we would still have him if we hadn’t moved. I felt incredibly sad and wanted to think that losing him had a purpose, but had no idea what it was.
Thanksgiving came and went quickly. Shorty after, we received more bad news. Anthony’s 22 year old cousin had suddenly passed away. Funerals were becoming such a routine to us, and we knew that this one would be one of the saddest yet.
Christmas came quietly. I enjoyed it for the kids but it wasn’t a happy time. My sisters and I missed the fun little presents my mom would pick out for us. We missed her. We were all ready for a new year, hopefully filled with more good events than bad. Shortly after Christmas, the last day of 2014, my grandpa passed away. It was almost a relief. Even though we would be starting the year with another funeral, it was better than starting it with another death.
The funeral was held in Mio, MI, about three hours north from our house. It was on a Monday. An icy storm was coming on Saturday, but was supposed to be over by Saturday evening, so we waited until Sunday to leave. Somehow, the storm was late and it was supposed to get really nasty on Sunday. This was the last straw for me. I remember talking to my sister and just saying “Can’t we just get one break?” Luckily, the weather held off and we didn’t have to drive on ice. We got our break.
He had a beautiful service and I felt peaceful as we headed home afterwards. About five minutes after leaving my phone rang. It was a girl who thought she had found Milo. I had received several phone calls since he went missing from people who thought they found him, so I was skeptical. I told her that it probably wasn’t him and that he had been missing for 4 months. She said based on my flier, she was pretty certain it was him. I asked her to text me some pictures. I spent the whole ride home putting the pictures she texted me side by side with pictures I had of him on my phone. I was getting more and more excited, although nervous about getting my hopes up.
After a very long three hour car ride, we finally arrived to see if the cat was Milo. The girl who called me, Christine, was pet sitting for her aunt, about three miles from our house. Her aunt had outdoor cats, so she set up an enclosed area outside for them with food. An orange tabby showed up a couple days after she started pet sitting, which was right around Christmas. On January 5, she took her aunt’s cat to the vet to get a cut checked out. She noticed our flier and was pretty certain the orange stray cat hanging out was Milo. We knew right away, it was him! We have no idea where he was from the time he disappeared to the time he showed up at Christine’s aunt’s three months later, but we got him back and he was ok!
Words can’t explain how happy we were, on so many different levels. The new year started out with a much needed blessing, and the timing was curious. My grandpa knew how sad I was about Milo, did he have anything to do with it? During the months that Milo was gone, we had many friends and family who helped search for him and hoped for him to come wandering up to the door whenever they came for a visit. Everyone was overjoyed to hear that we found him, as we all had the slightest hope that we would ever see him again. This was our hope. Hope from above that everything will be OK.