Travis and a Soldier (child) Named John…

When I moved to Panama I flew via Atlanta, which is one of the airports that the soldiers use to fly to Iraq. The fear and sadness in that airport were palpable, I, someone who always walks with her head up smiling at every person I pass by, kept my head down as I couldn’t deal with seeing those young boys dressed like grown men, leaving home to go fight a senseless war… fighting back tears, trying to live up to everything the uniform says they should be…. instead of going to college, or getting jobs, learning, growing, partying, getting laid and having fun…

While waiting the 5 hour layover Travis and I sat at a restaurant and they were so nice to us, they gave me a little cup of water and fresh tuna for her and let me keep her, in her travel bag, up on the table so she could always see me…

One soldier was sitting a few tables away from me kept looking at us and smiling, I think laughing too because I kept talking and singing to her and had a hand in the bag petting her to keep her calm. At one point he had so much sadness behind his smile I asked him if he wanted to come meet Travis… He jumped up and sat with us (now we all know Travis has her moments of hissing, screeching etc. but when she’s hopped up on valium, she’s quite docile lol) he put his hand in her bag and petted her, while I tried to explain why my female cat was named Travis… he had his hand in the bag the whole time, talking to her and telling me about his experiences. He was 18 years old, his name is John, his father and grandfather were both soldiers and it was just expected of him to become one too… He told me that he’d never spoken these words out loud to anyone, but he said “I am so scared, of course of being injured or dying, but actually of having to kill someone. All I want to do is play my guitar and sing” Tears flowed down his cheeks; he turned away from me and focused on Travis. She’s such an amazing being, she felt his pain, and pushed her own fears aside and began to purr. His face lit up and said “hey she’s purring!!!” His smile was of a child, delighted by the simplest things in life. I told him to feel honoured, as that rarely happens for anyone but me!!!

“If purring could be encapsulated, it’d be the most powerful anti-depressant on the pharmaceutical market.” ~ Alexis F. Hope

I decided to make him laugh and taught him the Travis the Kitty song and we sang it together to her laughing so hard.

He looked at his watch and said “I can’t believe how quickly the past 1.5 hours went, I have to run to my gate now!” He stuck his whole head in Travis’ bag and gave her a kiss, I stood up to shake his hand and he took it in both his hands and said “Thank you Lalita, this was the most relaxed I have felt in a long time, when I close my eyes at night I am going to sing the Travis the Kitty song till i fall asleep” With that he gave me the tightest, most genuine hug I have ever felt, and one I’ll never forget, he grabbed his duffle bag and ran to his plane.

“A loving cat can mend a wounded heart.” ~ Anonymous

I stood there watching him run, and realized only when the waitress put her arm around me that I was sobbing… She said to me, “Hon, you did a great thing there… from looking at you, I don’t know who got more out of it, him or you”

It wasn’t until hours later, while Travis and I were on the plane, did I realize we didn’t exchange numbers, or emails or even last names… I’ll never know what happened to John, I sometimes used to think he was home safe and sound and got himself a feisty little cat named Travis Jr. lol… but I do know he changed me forever, I don’t walk with my head down anymore, everyone I pass by gets a smile.

“Until one has loved an animal,  a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tracey
    Nov 11, 2014 @ 09:41:45

    Beautiful Story 🙂


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