Fifteen years ago, our orange tabby cat, Larry, nudged his way out of our screened porch in New Orleans. He had never gotten out before, but that’s because Vien and I always remembered to latch the screen door when we knew Larry was out there. Saturday, April 23, 2005, was humid and warm, and I was eight months and a few weeks pregnant with our first child.
My heart sunk when I glanced out to the porch from the living room and saw the screen door not just unlatched, but a few inches ajar. I searched our small home frantically, but I knew what had happened. Larry had gotten out. I told Vien my fears, and we immediately headed outside to look under our raised house. Sure enough, there was our kitty, right in the middle of the space beneath the white stucco house. I was too pregnant to crawl under there, but I think I remember Vien trying to scoot towards Larry. Of course, because he is a cat, Larry scurried away, further from home, when he saw Vien approaching him.
We trudged up and down our mercifully quiet and short Uptown street, calling his name. After over an hour of an exhausting cycle of finding him only to lose him again, I needed to sit my pregnant self down for a snack and water. I was all shaken up, I had been sobbing, so worried that our kitty of six years would be lost. I sat and had something to eat and drink, praying, while Vien continued to search.
He came back shortly, carrying Larry, who had made his way about four houses down and was lounging in a sunny driveway–just like a cat. We are still so thankful that Vien found Larry that morning.
I went to bed that night feeling particularly worn out from all the searching and crying of the morning, and a leisurely
walk waddle around Audubon Park in the afternoon. I made one last trip to the bathroom and settled in under the cool sheets close to midnight. Then my water broke. My due date was May 5, so this obviously came as a surprise.
Down to Tulane Medical Center we went, in the middle of the night. Our baby was coming early, but not soon. To this day, we often have to convince Luke to leave the house on the weekends. We have joked that he was being a “womb hermit” after my water broke. From midnight, it took him/me sixteen hours of waiting until he finally emerged into the world beyond Mommy.
We have been talking a lot about those baby days, as that “baby” has become a teenager. He’s about to finish his sophomore year of high school. He is done with braces and is just about as tall as his dad. He gets up before school to exercise and get ahead on school work, and just to have time to himself. He has a list of colleges that he wants to apply to in just a few years. Every now and then, we will have great conversations about current events that show me the way he sees the world. When did he make that leap from cute to handsome? How are his feet bigger than mine? How did we come to have such an amazing child? What a fantastic blur it’s been, watching him grow. We are blown away by his personality, intellect, and faith.
I am blessed beyond measure to think back to those first moments of holding him as a newborn, and how far we’ve come. Luke loves to look ahead and say things like, “In two years I’ll be 17 and ready to start college!” (He skipped a grade so he will in fact start college at 17, gulp!) I’m glad he’s excited about the future, but like parents everywhere, my heart cries, “slow down, enjoy today, you don’t know how good you have it!”.
Both kids really enjoy hearing the story of “the day the cat got out”. I’m so glad it ended not just well, but better than we could have hoped! Happy Birthday tomorrow, our dear boy!