The little orange boy stopped. Behind him, kitties
were playing, chasing each other and wrestling in the
warm sunshine. It looked like so much fun, but in
front of him, through the clear stillness of the
pond's water, he could see his mommy. And she was

He pawed at the water, trying to get at her, and when
that didn't work, he jumped into the shallow water.
All that got him was wet and Mommy's image danced away
in the ripples. "Mommy!" he cried.

"Is something wrong?"

The little orange boy turned around. A lady was
standing at the edge of the pond, her eyes sad but
filled with love. The little orange boy sighed and
walked out of the water.

"There's been a mistake," he said. "I'm not supposed
to be here." He looked back at the water. It was
starting to still again and his mommy's image was
coming back. "I'm just a baby. Mommy said it had to be
a mistake. She said I wasn't supposed to come here

The kind lady sighed and sat down on the grass. The
little orange boy climbed into her lap. It wasn't
Mommy's lap, but it was almost as good. When she
started to pet him and scratch under his chin like he
liked, he started to purr. He hadn't wanted to, but he
couldn't help it.

"I'm afraid there is no mistake. You are supposed to
be here and your mommy knows it deep down in her
heart," the lady said. The little orange boy sighed
and laid his head on the lady's leg. "But she's so
sad. It hurts me to see her cry. And daddy too."

"But they knew right from the beginning this would

"That I was sick?" That surprised the little orange
boy. No one had ever said anything and he had listened
when they thought he was sleeping. All he had heard
them talk about was how cute he was or how fast he was
or how big he was getting.

"No, not that you were sick," the lady said. "But you
see, they chose tears."

"No, they didn't," the little orange boy argued. Who
would choose to cry?

The lady gently brushed the top of his head with a
kiss. It made him feel safe and loved and warm - but
he still worried about his mommy. "Let me tell you a
story," the lady said.

The little orange boy looked up and saw other animals
gathering around. Cats - Big Boy and Snowball and
Shamus and Abby and little Cleo and Robin. Merlin
and Toby and Iggy and Zachary. Sweetie and Kamatte and
OBie. Dogs too- Sally and Baby and Morgan and Rocky
and Belle. Even a lizard named Clyde and some rats
named Saffron and Becky and a hamster named Odo.

They all lay down near the kind lady and looked up at
her, waiting.

She smiled at them and began:

A long long time ago, the Loving Ones went to the
Angel in Charge. They were lonesome and asked the
Angel to help them.

The Angel took them to a wall of windows and let them
look out the first window at all sorts of things -
dolls and stuffed animals and cars and toys and
sporting events.

"Here are things you can love," the Angel said. "They
will keep you from being lonesome."

"Oh, thank you," the Loving Ones said. "These are just
what we need."

"You have chosen Pleasure," the Angel told them.

But after a time the Loving Ones came back to the
Angel in Charge. "Things are okay to love," they said.
"But they don't care that we love them."

The Angel in Charge led them over to the second
window. It looked out at all sorts of wild animals.
"Here are animals to love," he said. "They will know
you love them."

So the Loving Ones hurried out to care for the wild

"You have chosen Satisfaction," the Angel said.

Some of the Loving Ones worked at zoos and wild animal
preserves, some just had bird feeders in their yards,
but after a time they all came back to the Angel in

"They know we love them," they told the Angel. "But
they don't love us back. We want to be loved in

So the Angel took them to the third window and showed
them lots of people walking around, hurrying places.
"Here are people for you to love," the Angel
told them.

So the Loving Ones hurried off to find other people to

"You have chosen Commitment," the Angel said.

But after a time a lot of Loving Ones came back to the
Angel in Charge.

"People were okay to love," they said. "But sometimes
they stopped loving us and left. They broke our

The Angel just shook his head. "I cannot help you," he
said. "You will have to be satisfied with the choices
I gave you."

As the Loving Ones were leaving, someone saw a window
off to one side and hurried to look out. Through it,
they could see puppies and kittens and dogs and cats
and lizards and hamsters and ferrets. The other Loving
Ones hurried over.

"What about these?" they asked.

But the Angel just tried to shoo them away. "Those are
Personal Empathy Trainers," he said. "But there's a
problem with their system operations."

"Would they know that we love them?" someone asked.

"Yes," the Angel said.

"Would they love us back?" another asked.

"Yes," the Angel said.

"Will they stop loving us?" someone else asked.

"No," the Angel admitted. "They will love you

"Then these are what we want," the Loving Ones said.

But the Angel was very upset. "You don't understand,"
he told them. "You will have to feed these animals."

"That's all right," the Loving Ones said.

"You will have to clean up after them and take care of
them forever."

"We don't care."

The Loving Ones did not listen. They went down to
where the Pets were and picked them up, seeing the
love in their own hearts reflected in the animals'

"They were not programmed right," the Angel said.

"We can't offer a warranty. We don't know how durable
they are. Some of their systems malfunction very
quickly, others last a long time."

But the Loving Ones did not care. They were holding
the warm little bodies and finding their hearts so
filled with love that they thought they would burst.

"We will take our chances," they said.

"You do not understand." The Angel tried one more
time. "They are so dependent on you that even the most
well-made of them is not designed to outlive you. You
are destined to suffer their loss."

The Loving Ones looked at the sweetness in their arms
and nodded. "That is how it should be. It is a fair
trade for the love they offer."

The Angel just watched them all go, shaking his head.
"You have chosen Tears," he whispered.

"So it is," the kind lady told the kitties. "And so
each mommy and daddy knows. When they take a baby into
their heart, they know that one day it will leave them
and they will cry."

The little orange boy sat up. "So why do they take us
in?" he asked.

"Because even a moment of your love is worth years of
pain later."

"Oh." The little orange boy got off the lady's lap and
went back to the edge of the pond. His mommy was still
there, and still crying. "Will she ever stop crying?"
he asked the kind lady.

She nodded. "You see, the Angel felt sorry for the
Loving Ones, knowing how much they would suffer. He
couldn't take the tears away but he made them

She dipped her hand into the pond and let the water
trickle off her fingers. "He made them healing tears,
formed from the special water here. Each tear holds
bits of all the happy times of purring and petting and
shared love. And the promise of love once again. As
your mommy cries, she is healing. "It may take a long
while, but the tears will help her feel better. In
time she will be less sad and she will smile when she
thinks of you. And then she will open her heart again
to another little baby."

"But then she will cry again one day," the little
orange boy said.

The lady just smiled at him as she got to her feet.
"No, she will love again. That is all she will think
about."   She picked up Big Boy and Snowball and
gave them hugs, then scratched Morgan's ear just how
she liked.

"Look," she said. "The butterflies have come. Shall we
go over to play?"

The other animals all ran ahead, but the little orange
boy wasn't ready to leave his mommy. "Will I ever get
to be with her again?"

The kind lady nodded. "You'll be in the eyes of every
kitty she looks at. You'll be in the purr of every cat
she pets. And late at night, when she's fast asleep,
your spirit will snuggle up close to her and you both
will feel at peace. One day soon, you can even send
her a rainbow to tell her you're safe and waiting here
for when it's her turn to come."

"I would like that," the little orange boy said and
took one long look at his mommy. He saw her smile
slightly through her tears and he knew she had
remembered the time he almost fell into the bathtub.
"I love you, Mommy," he whispered. "It's okay if you
cry." He glanced over at the other pets, running and
playing and laughing with the butterflies. "Uh, Mommy?
I gotta go play now, okay? But I'll be around, I

Then he turned and raced after the others.

©Anne Kolaczyk February 5, 1998