Monday, December 18, 2023

A Miracle for the Holidays

 Trey goes above and beyond to help out, but I know things haven't always been easy since oncologists diagnosed me with terminal cancer. No matter how much we try to stay upbeat, sometimes the kids get sad—like when our Doberman passed away.  

Months after this, Trey somehow became enamored with Maine Coons. "I'm so sorry, Trey. But they're just too expensive," I said. A full-blooded Maine Coon is between $2,500–$3,500. "That's more than our most expensive car!" We wanted to help Trey feel better—our Doberman had slept in his room every night—but it needed to be within reason.

"I'll get a job. I'll do anything." 

"You really want this?" I asked, and he'd nodded with such determination that I could already envision Trey, who's nearly six feet tall, holding a perfect little kitten. 

Trey saved every cent he could, and I wanted to help him, but soon we'd exhausted numerous avenues, including animal shelters, cat lotteries, and much more. 

At one point, a friend said this entire endeavor "didn't make sense" and I needed to save my energy. But they're missing the point. I just want my family to know how much I love them. Doctors say I'll never beat this, so I'm spending every second trying to build a legacy so my family will look back and say, "Hey, she loved me MORE than anything." "I was her world." Plus, I really felt that if Trey could get a Maine Coon, they'd have each other for much longer than I'm expected to live, and in the future, he might look back and think, "Mom helped make this possible for me…. Because… she loved me." Crying over my keyboard and a cup of coffee, I typed all of this into the computer and shared the story.   

"Elisa, do you hear someone coming?" Mike asked, bringing me back to the moment. We stood outside a home in Boise. I squeezed Mike's hand as we watched Indy and Trey. They both could hardly wait to see the kittens inside. 

Dana and James glowed as they opened the door. "Come in," they both said, motioning us to the living room. They'd read the story I'd shared months prior (the story about Trey wanting a Maine Coon), but I could hardly believe we were actually meeting them in person—on the other side of the state!

It's surreal, but after initially posting that story about Trey, I received an email from a woman named Erin. She wrote, "Today, I read your post about your son wanting a cat. My own adult son (24) has disabilities and was gifted a service dog many years ago. It changed our lives. I felt called to try to help you connect with a breeder."

Because of Erin, Dana heard about us... I could hardly believe how many things had to go "right" for this whole experience to take place. 

I sat down, stunned. Indy, our 13-year-old, looked like she'd gone to Cat Heaven, but Trey appeared more nervous than I'd seen him in years. "You can do this," Mike mouthed, encouraging Trey to speak up. He'd given us his speech repeatedly for almost 200 miles. Surely he hadn't forgotten it now? 

"I was wanting to… do payments for a kitten?" Trey said haltingly. "I don't know if you usually do that?" 

"I don't," Dana said kindly. "But tell me what you're looking for." 

"I would get a job, and then I'd be able to pay off all the money within a year. I'd definitely train the cat really well. I have $300 right now." 

"Do you know how much our cats are?" 

"I think my mom said $2500?" 

She paused. "They're $3500." 

Trey's face fell, but he forged on anyway. "If we raised it," Trey said, "I would try to help it become the best version of itself—and the happiest version it could be." 

"Well," Dana said, and it seemed Trey's words had deeply touched both Dana and James. "Let me run up and get one of our kittens, and we'll… We'll see what happens." 

While we waited, Mike talked with James, Trey seemed resolved, and Indy fell in love with the cats lounging like royalty beside her.

Moments later, Dana came down with a kitten, and I watched as Trey's hardened resolve fell when his eyes connected with Borah's, the kitten he'd been watching every day from afar for weeks. "He's like a celebrity," Trey had said because he constantly viewed the Mermazing Maine Coons' site and fell in love with that exact kitten.

"Trey," Dana said, "we've decided to give you a kitten. We're giving you… Borah." 

Trey held his breath, blinked twice, and seemed completely dumbfounded. "Are you… Are you serious?" They handed Borah to Trey. "I don't know what to say." Trey gently sat down, not wanting anything in the world to separate him from Borah or this moment.  

"There are no payments," Dana said. "There are no stipulations except that you keep good grades and take extra—extra—good care of him." Trey couldn't hold his emotions back. "Thank you!" He wiped tears from his eyes. 

I thought about Dana and her inspiring story. She had breast cancer at 26 years old and underwent surgeries, chemo, and radiation. The fact that she's been through so much and wanted to help us… That's when I cried along with Trey, Mike, and Indy. As huge tears rolled down my cheeks, I somehow felt the goodness of generations, the kindness that unites strangers, and the love that makes fighting cancer worth it.

"You knew I was getting Borah, didn't you?" Trey asked me. 

"Yes," I laughed, "but Dana did such a good job that about halfway through, I started to wonder if I'd misunderstood her."

Before we left with Borah and the bag of goodies Dana and James had prepared to send us with, Dana gave me a huge hug. "What have you learned from your battle against cancer?" I asked.

"I've learned that I'm strong. Doctors can give us the medicine we need, but when we work on our mental selves and say, 'Yes, I can,' we'll have the fortitude to make it through.' It's hard to remember what it was like to not be a… 'cancer person,' but I just couldn't say I was done. It wasn't a possibility." 

I nodded. "I needed to hear that so badly today. I really did." 

Trey walked by us, and we watched him cradling Borah. "I'm just shocked that you did this," Trey said to Dana and James.

"For me," Dana said, "this is better than Christmas."

So, as we drove home, truly realizing that a miracle had transpired, Trey gently sang to Borah in the backseat. 

"I feel like I'm in a dream," I whispered to Mike. "I'm just so happy. This has got to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for us." I thought about my upcoming appointments, and instead of being anxious like I normally am about scans and treatments, Dana's words came back to me: Yes, I can. 

"I'm so grateful we got to meet them. Dana and James, from Mermazing Maine Coons, gave us two things we desperately needed: They gave me the courage to keep going and Trey got a lifelong friend. 

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