Chesed. Love. Netzach. Endurance. Chesed she’b’Netzach. Love that keeps us keeping on.
Today, I’d like to tell a Sophia Street story. It’s about lasting love between friends.
True confession: We have an indoor-outdoor cat. His name is Koi and he is 16 years old. He’s quite friendly. So, after 14 years in the neighbourhood, he has many friends. Some are other cats—read a sweet story here. And some are people.
Mrs. L. is one of his human friends. She lives two doors down. When Koi was young, she worried about him. She would ring our doorbell to let us know. Or, “It’s cold. Is your cat home?” “Hi,” she would say, “It’s raining.” Sometimes Koi would be with her.
Young Koi liked jumping and climbing. Sometimes he would leap up on a neighbour’s roof. If their upstairs window was open, Koi would walk right in to visit. So, sometimes Mrs. L. would come by to tell us, “He was on my ceiling!” Her English isn’t perfect, but we knew she was talking about her roof.
Well, Koi is older now. He’s lost some weight. We worry about him, too. So we took him to the vet, and ordered every test we could afford. The diagnosis? He’s aging.
But, last fall, he suddenly stopped eating for a few days. And we worried about him again. Until we saw this sign up in the neighbourhood:
Hello Neighbor! We are trying to locate the owner of this male cat. He is regularly seen on Sophia Street where we live. He comes to our house every day wanting food and hangs out on our back porch.
Clearly new neighbours! If they knew Koi, they’d realize: he wanted to meet them, not eat with them! I called them and explained. Also, I asked what they were feeding him. Turns out, it was a treat I hadn’t tried.
But back to Mrs. L, star of this story. Mrs. L is aging, too. She is bent over from arthritis. She shuffles when she walks. It’s hard for her to walk a flight of stairs—like the one up to our front door.
But one day, about a week ago, the doorbell rings. I open the door and there is Mrs. L. She’s masked and holding a bag. “Here’s some can food for Koi. He’s getting old. He can’t eat the hard food anymore,” she says. I tell her he has every kind of food at home. But I also thank her for being Koi’s friend, and accept the gift.
Then I close the door and I cry. Mrs. L loves Koi so much. They are aging together. She worries he is feeling what she feels. In fact, she comes by again, and I accept the gift again.
Now, Koi is a very orderly cat. He follows a clear routine. And insists we follow it too. So, at his request, he goes out for a while every morning. But this week, he did something different. He stayed in for three full days. No, he didn’t seem sick. He had a reason; we just don’t know what it is.
Today, the doorbell rings again. It’s Mrs. L, with another gift bag. She apologizes for forgetting her mask. I tell her again that Koi has plenty of food. “He comes to my house every morning!” she says. “I didn’t see him for a few days and I thought he was dead. I worry!”
So, I tell her that we worry, too. That Koi has been to the doctor, twice recently. That he is fine. She looks relieved. Also, I tell her that he has every kind of food; we can’t accept so many gifts. And, again, I thank her for being Koi’s friend. “Okay,” she says. And I watch her walk, slowly and with difficulty, back down the stairs.
Koi and Mrs. L. love each other. Their friendship is steady. They renew it every day. Koi keeps Mrs. L’s spirits up. So much around her is changing. Her own health changes, too. But her time with Koi is like a little oasis. If he is well, then she is, too.
So, ask yourself today. Whose Koi are you? Who do you give life to, just through your steady presence?
Today is Day 22 of the Omer, three weeks and 1 day.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.