jepsonKlondike came into my life when times were tough. Divorced and unemployed, I spent my days searching for work and fighting despair. To cheer myself up, I volunteered at an animal shelter twice a week. There I met a golden-red kitten who looked like a ray of sunlight.

” ‘Klondike’ is a name he’ll have to grow into,” the woman at the shelter said when I told her the kitten’s new name. That’s exactly what he did. Within a few months, he was a massive cat with gigantic paws and a jolly round face: a sweet and gentle giant.

Klondike and I were soon inseparable. He sat on my lap as I searched the classifieds and typed cover letters. His antics made me smile even when things seemed hopeless. When I finally found a low-paying job with long hours, I got through the day by picturing his face at the window when I got home. The evenings weren’t lonely with him next to me as I read. When I found him curled at the foot of my bed in the morning, the day didn’t look quite so bleak.

It was eight years before my life turned around. When I found an exciting job with a decent salary, I could hardly breathe. I didn’t realize then that the job would bring me not only a better lifestyle and new friends, but a wonderful man I would one day marry. My entire life was changing for the better.

Except for one thing. Three days after my job interview, Klondike fell horribly ill. Heartsick, I rushed him to a veterinary hospital, vowing to do everything to make him well. But the unthinkable happened. My ray of sunshine was diagnosed with feline heartworm. It was untreatable. The day before I started my new job, he died in my arms.

I wonder: Are humans the only ones born for a purpose? Or do all beings come into the world with a mission? Klondike appeared when my life was at its lowest. He gave me friendship when I needed it most and laughter when it was in short supply. He kept me going through the darkest nights – right up until my life began to change. I can’t help believing that he had a reason for coming to me: to help me through those hard years, until I was whole again. If that was his life’s mission, he accomplished it perfectly. Then, his purpose on Earth fulfilled, it was time for him to go home.

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