There are two types of waiting. Sometimes it’s waiting for a few minutes because you’re a little early for your bus. Sometimes it’s waiting for your order at a restaurant or waiting the 3-5 business days until you get that package you’re so excited about; it may not be there now, but you know that it will be sooner or later.
Then there is the waiting you do for something you’re not really sure about; you have this nagging feeling that there is a certain something missing but you can’t imagine what. Yet there you are, living out your days with nothing but hope for whatever it may be.
The latter is the type of waiting I did for two years at Friends For Life.
When I first arrived at the shelter, I had hardly any concept of what a “shelter” was, let alone “adoption”—or the waiting I would have to do. I was uncertain at first but there was something very inviting about this Friends For Life place. The humans who took care of me there made me feel very comfortable. The warmth of each of their souls was so abundant that I became convinced of one thing: these humans must be composed of sunlight itself.
And so, this became home for me. I was moved into a large room where I was free to roam around, and there I met other cats. I always kept to myself for the most part but I grew very fond of these new roommates. I learned that I was at a shelter, where I would get delicious food and plentiful pettings. Imagine my confusion when suddenly I noticed some of my friends were disappearing! I was afraid, but the others who were still there assured me that our friends were just fine: they were just being adopted. I had never heard this word before! Everyone had this gleam in their eye when they talked about it. I was still confused. We had it pretty good at Friends For Life: plenty of food and water, clean beds, toys, and lots of laps to sit in at various times throughout the day. They really wanted to give that up?
It was indeed true—my friends were excited at the prospect of adoption. Adoption apparently meant an even more special place to go: a forever home. A forever home was somewhere the love would be even more overflowing. It would mean even more space to explore. Most importantly, I heard it meant a human family. So there was a person (or two, maybe more!) who would welcome me into their lives? Who knew? What I did know was that I could not wait another minute for this exciting new voyage!
But I did.
I turned up the charm as high as I could, let me tell you. I have always loved a warm, comfy lap and I sat in so many different ones hoping it might belong to my forever friend. I got a lot of people who seemed interested but it just didn’t happen. So I waited. As I saw some of my other roommates get adopted I wished them well—truly, I did—but at the end of the day I questioned, “When will it be my turn?” The days became weeks, became months, became years, and in the absence of my new “family” I thought I found my answer. Every adoption of another friend was bittersweet and I accepted that I was not meant to have a forever home.
And then something magical happened. A couple had been to the shelter multiple times. I heard them asking about a cat who was in foster care (which is a temporary home they stay in until they get adopted) but they decided to hang out and meet the rest of us. They spent time in the different rooms and I got comfy in the girl’s lap every day she visited. She really knew my favorite spots to be pet! In a miraculous turn of the cards, they were talking to an adoption counselor and before I could process it I was on my way to their house for a sleepover! As soon as I stepped out of that carrier and into her room, I knew I had stepped into her life for good. She and her fiancé were so happy to be with me! They saw something in me that no one else did. When I looked in their eyes, I saw forever. I was finally home. A year since that glorious first meeting I am living my days with my family only waiting for mealtime, playtime, and cuddle-time…and I know those times are neither few nor far between. They even found us a new family member who had been abandoned. She can be a pain sometimes, but I love her.
To any of you waiting to meet your family at Friends For Life: have patience. Do not doubt yourself. Your family is looking for you and when the time is just right you will be together. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to lean on the staff, volunteers and fosters. It’s why they are there. They never stopped caring and they never rushed me to leave their wonderful shelter. Don’t be afraid. They will keep you safe while they help you find your family. Sit on a few laps. Chase a few lasers. Lots of really nice people will come to see you. One day, you will just know. They will know. Here’s the funny thing: they will have had that same nagging feeling of a certain something missing–until they see you. And the home that awaits you all will be worth the wait.
— Sugar, FFL alumna