Most likely, you've heard of Gabriel the angel. But have you ever heard of Gabriel the cat?
One was a biblical messenger from heaven and the other ... well, it's a story that may give pause for thought.
It was Christmastime 2010 when a roaring fireplace could barely quell the chill of an Iowa winter -- or warm the emptiness in a mother's heart.
"I was very close to my son Christopher," said Liz Fisher, a former Tri-City resident now living in Spokane.
"He died when he was 28," she added, remembering the tragic loss almost seven years ago.
Especially fragile with grief during the holiday season that year, Liz, her husband Joe and daughter Catherine, had flown to Virginia to see family, returning just before Christmas. It was on their way home from the airport that Liz felt drawn to stop at a small "mom and pop" pet store. Why she made the request after hours of travel remains a mystery to her, even to this day.
"I want to make it perfectly clear, we're not getting any animals," Liz said she told her family as they entered the store, knowing they had an elderly cat waiting at home.
But as Liz strolled past the cages, one tiny kitten came to life, playfully engaging her with heartfelt meows.
"He started talking to me, sort of a conversation back and forth, and the next thing, there I was, buying a cat," Liz said with a smile.
The immediate joy she felt over their new pet was soon eclipsed when she and her husband arrived at the house to find their beloved old kitty, Soxie, had died. Weary from their trip, they said final goodbyes graveside in the icy cold while the fading light brought tears and rekindled grief.