As I looked at the calendar today, I realized it’s been almost 2 years since I lost my dear friend Andy. He left me on June 18, 2011, when his big, sweet heart finally gave up the fight. As I spend the next few weeks writing an essay for a class about looking for my home, I can’t help but think about Andy, and how a “homeless” man taught me more than I ever would have believed possible. He taught me a lot about life; some things about protecting yourself or letting people in; about my own son; and most of all, about unconditional love. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Andy loved me, because of the things he did, and the things he didn’t do. No matter how bad things were for either of us, he never let me forget that he loved me and that he was there for me. He never made me feel like he was too busy, or that I was a bother.
One of the things about Andy that was most precious to me was that he gave me a special name—all my own—that he used only for me. As he was getting to know me, he told me one day that I was like a kitten: when I was hurt, I would lash out and attack, and then run and hide under the bed. He was right, of course. He had described it perfectly. From then on, Kitten was his special name for me.
I do understand that about myself now. When I am hurt, I tend to strike out at whoever hurt me, and then hide away as I lick my wounds and wait for them to heal. Gentleness and patience can gradually coax me back out again, but it will be slow and I will be wary. Few people have had the patience to bother; but Andy always did. He would draw me out, and find out what it was that had hurt me. Then he would soothe my wounds and care for me as they slowly healed.
He was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and he understood me as very few people—male or female—ever did. I loved him as much as I’ve ever loved anyone in my whole life. He was a precious gift from God to me, and I miss him as much now as ever.
When I’m hurt or scared, I still feel like that kitten. I would give anything to hear him say that name again. Even after all this time, and though he’s gone on to find his permanent home, I’m still Andy’s “Kitten.”