In a little white house, in a little town, there lived a man and a woman and a cat. The cat wasn’t little — he was big. He was a big black cat, and he was lonely. He wanted to spend every minute of every day with the man and woman, but he couldn’t. They had to go off to their jobs, so they could buy things like catnip and toy mice. The big black lonely cat cried a lot, and the man thought he needed a friend.
One day the man came home with a newspaper and an idea. He had found a friend for the big black lonely cat. The next day, the man and woman brought two friends home — a silly black and white cat and a little grumpy black cat. But the big black cat was not happy. He did not like his new friends, not one bit. He wanted to be alone with the man and woman, every minute of every day.
The silly black and white cat worked hard to make the big angry black cat his friend. He tried to share toys. He tried to play. And one day, the man and woman came home to find that the big angry black cat was happy, and the silly black and white cat was happy. The little grumpy black cat was still grumpy, but that was okay.
The silly black and white cat got into lots of trouble. He fell in the river — but he came home.
He stayed out all night chasing fireflies and looking at the stars — but he came home. He jumped up on the roof — but he came home.
He climbed to the very top of a tall tree — but he came home.
He always, always came home.
Just after winter turned to spring, the snow fell all around and the big happy black cat stayed inside with the little grumpy black cat. The silly black and white cat loved to chase the snowflakes, though, so he left the other cats at home and went on an adventure. But this time, he didn’t come home.
The man and the woman looked everywhere for their silly black and white cat. They called his name. They put up signs with his silly black and white face, but nobody called. Until one day, they found out that their black and white cat was not going to come home, because he couldn’t. The silly black and white cat was gone, forever.
The man and the woman and their baby, and the big sad black cat, and the little grumpy black cat, all missed their black and white cat terribly. He was their friend, and he was gone. His bed was empty. His favourite spot on the old green couch stayed cold. It was hard to imagine life without their goofy companion.
The first time the man and the woman and the big black cat (and yes, even the little grumpy black cat) met the silly black and white cat their hearts grew bigger because they loved him so much. When he went away, his spot in their hearts was left empty and aching to be filled.
They had memories of their silly friend, though, that knitted together to fill in the blank space. They remembered his meow that sounded like a yodel. They remembered his purr, and his soft, velvety fur, and how patiently he waited while the baby of the house gave him unruly kisses. It helped them feel less sad.
One day, the snow melted. The grass turned green, and the flowers sprouted out of the garden where the silly black and white cat used to dig in the dirt. The birds flew by the windows and the squirrels ran through the yard, with no black and white cat to chase them anymore. The world kept turning, the sun kept rising, and though they missed their friend every day, the man and the woman and their baby and the big black cat and the little black cat were all okay. The silly black and white cat lived in their hearts and their minds and if you looked just the right way, sometimes you might think you saw a black and white tail flicking in the trees, moving skyward toward the birds, the lights, and eternity.