Healing Laughter

I dropped down on the sofa and watched my three-year-old daughter sitting in the middle of the living room floor playing with Harvey, her long-limbed stuffed toy. Flicker the cat lovingly purred as he rubbed against her. His long tail kept getting into her face. The tickly sensation seemed to delight her.

A little over a year earlier, the black and white tuxedo cat joined our family on the first day after we’d moved to this house. The cat was young, about six months old. That evening as I unpacked boxes, he silently moved around the perimeter of the room checking out the place. From the corner of my eyes I saw only small flickers of his white markings in the shadows so I named him Flicker.

Flicker had started out as a slim, long-legged male feline, but he had turned into a large, sleek handsome pussy cat during the past year. He fell in love with my daughter. Niki adored her kitty. They often played together.

I smiled with happiness. The holidays were very close. My husband and I had a sweet little girl and I’d just found out that a new baby would arrive in July.

Other than feeling a little morning sickness, I felt well as I dove into preparing for Christmas. Niki was excited by all the decorations. Flicker tried to eat the ribbons. On Christmas Eve I raced around to make the gifts look as if they were put under the tree while Arnie and Niki waited in the car before going to church.

On Christmas day I knew something wasn’t right with my pregnancy. As a precaution, I began to rest and not move around as much. That didn’t help. The problem persisted.

The afternoon of January 4th I started to feel like I was in labor. Horrified, I told Arnie, “I’m only 14 weeks along!”

Arnie said, “Call our babysitter. Maybe we can drop Niki there on our way to the emergency room.”

Shortly after we arrived at the hospital, the doctor on call entered the cubical as I was miscarrying the baby. Being a fellow Christian, he baptized the tiny baby for us.

After a short period of observation, the doctor sent Arnie and I home. Feeling shell-shocked, I walked into our living room and sank down onto the sofa. Arnie went to the dining room phone and said, “I’ll call the babysitter. Maybe Niki can stay the night with them.”

Flicker had followed us into the house, looking around as if searching for his favorite little girl. He sat down between the living room and dining room and fastidiously began to lick his paws.

I stored Niki’s many toys behind our living room sofa by setting it at an angle away from the wall. As I sat waiting for Arnie to get off the phone, I heard the toys behind the sofa being moved. Getting up on my knees to look over the back, I spotted a mouse.

“Arnie!” I squealed in a stage whisper. The mouse ran under the sofa and out into the middle of the living room. Flicker was oblivious. At that moment Arnie stepped into the living room doorway.

The mouse and man stared at each other for a few seconds before the mouse scurried around the corner and into the closet beneath the stairway.

Being a man of action, Arnie scooped Flicker up, threw him into the closet after the mouse and slammed the door shut.

The poor, dense cat had no idea why he’d just been thrown into the closet. As the grandson of a Siamese, he used his full-throated baby-wail cry to holler, “Leeetmeeeowt!”

Arnie and I looked at each other with surprise. I laughed and exclaimed, “Flicker doesn’t know there’s a mouse in the closet!” Laughing self-consciously, Arnie ruefully opened the door to allow our bewildered cat to escape.

Whenever I remember how sad we felt when I miscarried that baby, I also remember the comic relief the mouse provided. The silliness of the situation and our laughter was healing.



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