When I was about ten, we lived next door to my grandmother. She had two female cats, that I guess it never occurred to anyone to get fixed. The two cats, Snowball and Patches, were constantly having kittens. I picked out an orange tabby that summer. Actually I'm a bit confused on the chronology. I know I was at least ten and it was very sunny. So, I'm going with the summer I was ten, possibly the summer after, when I was eleven.
This orange kitten never got a name, or if it did, I've forgotten it. Anyhow, it was mine. It would come up to the back door and attach itself to the screen and mew. I don't really know why we couldn't just let the cat in the house, but I was constantly trying to get it stay down and shut up. One afternoon, my older brother by four years opened the back door, removed the cat and threw it out into the yard. It picked itself up and came running back to the door. My brother walked off to his room or wherever. The cat reattached itself to the screen door. I did as my brother had done, and threw the cat out into the yard.
When the kitten left my hand something inside me was released with it. It was one of the most disturbing feelings, to throw a part of yourself away like that, as if it mattered not in the least. I watched as the kitten landed on its head. It picked itself up, shook it's head a little, and walked away. It didn't come back to the door.
A day or two later my mother came into my room to tell me that my grandmother had found my kitten dead in her back yard.
With a bit of smirk, she said, "She was afraid you'd be upset."
Her smirk said, to me, "But I know you're not upset over a silly little cat, right?"
After all, it was just a cat. There'd be plenty more in the years to come, ones that got names, but always seemed to run away.
I believed my mom. I didn't get upset. I just filed it away under the heading "Deal With Later." It became so easy to slip bits and pieces away in that file over the years. I have only in the past few years been sorting through that file that has grown so large. Recently I came across the orange kitten, the one that I killed.
I know that I killed that cat. And most of the time I'm okay with that. In the big, grand scheme of things, it was just a cat, and I was just a kid. It's not that I don't value that life now, but when you hold it up to the atrocities of history, it doesn't seem so bad. I'm okay with what I've done, because I think I learned from that moment when a piece of me, of who I was, got thrown out the backdoor with that orange kitten.
I wanted to be like my brother. I wanted to please my mother. This event didn't happen in a vacuum, and I'm not making excuses anymore for anyone. I'm starting with myself. I killed that cat. I'm responsible for that. I get it. I don't ever want to be responsible for anything so heinous again. May my children never know what it is like to throw pieces of themselves away. That is my only wish. Because, while perhaps you can argue that I was led to that back door, I am the one that let go of myself.