From the moment a new foster arrives in our home, my mindset is one of protection. I find myself almost immediately thinking of them as if they were our own, at least in all the ways that matter – to provide them with shelter, with food, to offer a gentle hand and a kind heart, and most important of all, to protect them.
I will be honest in saying that in the past, when a potential adopter has called to enquire about whoever our little houseguest may be at that time, I have cringed somewhat when I’ve learned that they’ve had small children, and even moreso when it's small boys. Immediately there would be images flashing through my mind, none of which would give me the warm and fuzzies, and words like torment, torture and teasing would not be far behind. That was however, until an incredible little boy named Cole and his two friends, Fred & Ginger, proved me completely wrong…………………
It’s more than safe to say that Cole has adored Fred & Ginger, and Fred & Ginger have adored Cole. Theirs was a relationship that has been filled with tenderness, contentment, and an abundance of love. There has been an unconditional bond between them, the kind that would touch even the toughest of souls. Cole’s Mom described their relationship best when she shared with me the following - Cole loved having his picture taken with them and even taking pictures of them himself. They were endlessly amusing and comforting to him. Fred was especially taken with Cole as he was with him and he always slept right beside him at night, practically on top of him and Cole wouldn't have it any other way. He was always so gentle with them and would often just lay on the floor beside them when he first woke up. Fred was always in his room "helping" him get dressed in the mornings and often when he was supposed to be doing something, like getting ready for school, he would be easily distracted and I would find him playing with them. Whenever he was upset, he would tell us that just having the cats cuddled up with him and being able to pet their soft fur really calmed him.
Cole’s tender hearted love for his furry friends has been even more poignant and has touched me even more deeply because his life as a child was forever changed when in 2005 at the age of 4, Cole was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma cancer (http://www.jamesfund.com/). For the next 5 years he battled in the fields of this disease and exhibited a strength and courage that I and countless others stand in awe of. Sadly, afew weeks ago on August 1st, at the age of 9 years, Cole made his journey from this world, returning home to our Heavenly Father. Fred & Ginger, now separated from their special friend, and missing him I'm sure, are being loved by Cole's parents and loving them in return.
I am convinced now that there is a very special companionship that can and does lie between children and animals, and the wonderful relationship that brought such smiles, fun, happiness, and comfort to Cole when Fred & Ginger came into his life, is undeniable evidence of that love in its most beautiful form. I will be forever grateful to this amazing little boy for teaching me about that love by his precious example, and about the joys that can be found in life, in the smallest of moments.
And when that next enquiring phone call comes, and the person indicates that they have a small child or children, I will think upon Cole, Fred & Ginger together, and I will say with a smile, “Yes, please bring him or her, we would love to have them meet our little friend”.