The Dream of Billy

When I was a little girl I wanted to have a pet kitten so bad. I asked my parents every day if I could have one. When I asked my dad, he would tell me to ask my mom and when I asked my mom she would respond by saying I could have one when we moved to a farm. Then of course I would ask my dad when we were going to move to a farm and it would go on and on like that.

Eventually, I caught on to them, but, as kids often do even when things are apparently hopeless, I kept dreaming anyway. Before I went to sleep every night I would silently list off one by one all of the acceptable colours of kitties that would be welcomed by me if one happened to show up at my doorstep—so pretty much every colour of cat that existed in my brain at the time.

Then, in the summer before I entered the fifth grade, the most wonderful thing that could ever happen to a nine-year-old-me, happened!!!

I was playing in the backyard, pulling out carrots to eat from the garden, when I heard a tiny “mew”. Um, what did I just hear? The little cry was coming from the other side of the fence where the neighbours had a driveway thoughtfully stacked full of lumber and building materials. There was one picket in the fence that had some space between it and the grass so I hurried over there and replied back with a “mew”.

Our interactions consisted of speaking “Kitten” and offerings of food and drink under the fence. Then one evening, I had my first breakthrough! I was able to coax out the adorable, fluffy little black kitten from the other side of the fence long enough for a little cuddle. I remember feeling her heart beating so fast but she let me hold her for a minute or two. And then, as quick as it happened, she escaped and darted back under the fence and through the cracks between two-by-fours and planks of wood to her hideout.

It felt like an eternity but with time and a lot of patience she became more and more comfortable with me until she began to come out and see me on her own.

Near the end of summer, my big sister came outside one afternoon with a bucket and said something along the lines of, “if you want to keep her, they said we have to give her a bath”. I still remember the way I felt in that moment with the sun shining in the giant prairie-sky around midday and the speckled cream-coloured bucket full of warm soapy water sitting there on the grass. A kind of happiness and excitement came over me that stayed with me for a long time. We gave my little kitty a bath together and then brought her inside and towelled her dry, and after that, she became a part of my family. We called this kitty-cat ‘Billy’, and it’s kind of embarrassing that we named her that because it essentially means kitty. And “billoo” is a made-up term of endearment and comes from the word ‘billi’.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the fact that Billy showed up the way she did when I wanted her the most was quite significant. And it’s happened a few times throughout my life, where a dream I have seems so far out of reach and then all of a sudden, it’s right there in front of me!