Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o’re His foes!
– Low in the Grave He Lay – Baptist Hymnal
On Good Friday my daughter was blue.
When we got to her grandparents house that evening, she learned the little cat who had been staying in the barn with her pony had gone missing. My girl had been looking forward to seeing the little cat. She was told in passing by one of her cousins that Stampy, the tiger-striped tabby, hadn’t been seen in quite some time.
My daughter took it hard but tried to keep it to herself. She had become attached to another barn cat over the summer, a white and black fella who had half of a Hitler mustache marking, that earned him the moniker Mustachio. That cat also suddenly went missing and hadn’t been seen in months.
My daughter found Stampy up at the barn during our last visit on a cold, damp Sunday morning and claimed him for her own. My in-laws other cats, both boys and long survivors, were claimed by the other girl cousins. It seemed only fair as my daughter had two cats of her own at home. Still, my daughter liked the idea of having a cat that was hers living at her Meme’s house.
Stampy was living with Patches after he had been apparently abandoned when a nearby family moved away. My girl snuggled him, and fed him and named him after her favorite YouTuber who does videos about Minecraft.
At my in-laws, an animal going missing is rarely good news. They live in the country where cats, and pretty much any other type of animal they have, can fall prey to all sorts of creatures. It’s simply not that unusual for an animal, even a dog who has been around for years, to simply disappear. There one minute, gone the next.
My daughter was seriously bugged that night as she tried to drift off but she finally managed to get to sleep. When Saturday came around, the girl got up early for a change and decided to go up and see her pony. She was trailed by one of her younger cousins, her sometimes shadow when something fun might be afoot.
I was sitting on the porch looking over the pond, and pretty much in paradise. I had a cup of hot tea, a book and a beautiful spring morning. Next thing I know the young cousin is running down the road, down from the horse barn, all a twitter.
“He’s there, he’s there,” she cried.
Stampy was back from the dead and the young cousin was trumpeting his return like a modern version of Mary Magdalene.
It’s an Easter miracle, I thought to myself and then went to fish. When my daughter made her way down from the horse barn she was happy and chirpy, excited the little cat was back.
I kept with my theme and asked her if she felt a little like one of the apostles on Easter, finding someone she thought she had lost had returned.
She grinned, knowing I was pulling her leg.
“A little bit but I’m sure that was pretty different,” she said.
Though she did relate how she and Stampy had run to each other and to her it seemed like they were in one of those movie scenes where folks long separated run toward each other and eventually embrace, all in slow motion.
While fishing I contemplated the significance of Stampy’s return. In the words of Mystery Science Theater’s Crow T. Robot after Loupeta, the poor girl in a Mexican Santa Claus movie received her long-awaited doll, “It’s a short-lived miracle with very little consequences.”
Still, my girl was happy. I was happy.
Later that day, as I went into town, who did I see nearby, bounding through some tall grass? Could it be? The black and white cat stopped and looked over his shoulder. There it was, the half-Hitler mustache. A second, well-loved cat, back from the dead.
Another small miracle, but a miracle just the same. I was happy to tell Laynie I had seen Mustachio. She was glad he was alive.
Easter Sunday, sure enough, as we drove out to head to church, I spotted Mustachio ahead, creeping in a ditch.
“There he is,” I said, like I’d spotted Ahab’s white whale and sped up to get a better look.
“I don’t know,” my wife and daughter chorused. But I was sure. It was him. As we pulled up to the last spot I saw him, he was nowhere to be seen. He was a ghost. But I was sure. I had faith. It was Mustachio. It was a sign.
We motored on and just a few seconds later my daughter chimed from the back seat.
“Look mama, two birds fighting, see them?”
My wife and daughter gazed at the battle as I drove, my eyes on the road.
“It’s two doves and they’re fighting!” the girl exclaimed. “They’re fighting over a branch or something. And on Easter. You’d think they’d be carrying something peacefully.”
Well, I thought, as I pulled onto the highway. Sometimes two doves fighting on Easter are just two doves fighting on Easter.