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It is almost a year since we welcomed a new member into our family. My youngest son fell in love with her picture online. “Colette,” he would say longingly every morning. “Oh, Colette,” he would sigh into my ear before bed.
In an unguarded moment, I had agreed that we would get a cat. It was all the permission Sacha needed to begin trawling through animal rescue and cat café websites. I established a few rules—no kittens, no cats with “issues,” no pairs—and he intensified his search. It became apparent we were caught in a hot lockdown market for animals: pets had become premium commodities.
Way out in Abbotsford was Colette. She would be on the BC SPCA website one day and gone the next. We would think she had been adopted—cue much lamenting—then she would pop up again, sparking undeniable joy in my son’s face. His older brother (who had lobbied long and hard for a dog) was sniffy: “Black-and-white cats are so booooring,” he would say.
After a couple of weeks of watching all our potential felines rescued by other people, Colette was still in Abbotsford. Sacha checked her status 20 times a day. It began to feel preordained that she was “our” cat. We made an appointment and, well, I am writing this with Colette trying to sit on my chest.
This little addition to our home has made an enormous impact—and not just because we quickly understood what “Colette is a very chatty cat” in her online bio meant. Recently, my eldest son was cuddling her and said, “I can’t imagine my life without Colette in it.” He speaks for us all.
But beyond the love she has brought to our family unit, Colette has made an indelible mark on our friends, our neighbours, and many, many strangers. An indoor cat (traffic, coyotes, etc.), she took easily to the harness we tried on her, and she spends several hours a day connected to a leash in our front yard. It has generated an outpouring of community: her dog friends (they touch noses and roll around together) are regular visitors, as are neighbours who have rerouted their daily walks to include a few minutes playing with this friendly little soul. This may not have been an easy year, but Colette has been one of our silver linings.
Community may be the one thing the pandemic has made clear is essential to our lives, and as we shift into whatever the next phase of this global crisis brings, hopefully we will not lose that.
Creating and maintaining community is at the heart of many of the stories in this issue. At Ronald McDonald House, it is the very reason for its existence, permeating every facet in a mission to support families with sick children, and at UBC, a study into men’s health suggests connection and community is the bedrock for good mental health.
The carving community in Tofino has been nurtured for decades on Chesterman Beach, a legacy we trace back to its founder, Henry Nolla; at the Acorn, Shira Blustein has created a passionate community for elevated plant-based dining. Art connects us to each other and to deep-seated parts of ourselves, and by mining her own emotions, singer-songwriter Frazey Ford offers us a way to connect not simply with those who share our taste but also with our innermost thoughts and feelings.
As we enter fall still uncertain of what the next year will bring, let’s cherish the new connections, friendships, and ways of living that have helped make us feel whole and authentic. There are silver linings all around, if we keep our hearts and minds open to them.
Read more from our Autumn 2021 issue.