I have been entrusted with a great many of them. And while the tiny little ones are no more valuable than us beings out here living bigger lives, they come to my heart very differently.
Something happens to me when I am confronted with the smallness of life, the tiny increments that breathe, live and love. Something so very tender about the tininess.
Yesterday my daughter brought home yet another kitten from the ranch. This time, the sweet little dear was not in good condition. I knew if she was to make it, the vet must be seen immediately. Luckily I live in a small town where dying barn kittens still rank in priority and was informed that I should bring her right over. We did.
I will never forget the look on the vet’s face, kind, concerned but also with a look of “are you kidding me?” She shook her head and said, “I don’t think she is going to make it...” I said “can we please try...”
And so we did. And with the barest of our efforts, we made small improvements. And this tiny little bag of bones, showed us that she was up for the fight. She bit the vet tech as they gave her subdermal fluids. Of course, it didn’t hurt but it showed that she has moxy and she is willing to do her part to remain here on Tierra Firma.
The vet gave us warnings and parted with, “if she makes it through tonight, she has a good shot..please let me know how she does!”
And so we brought her home, got her set up in my office which has now doubled as a kitten convalescent home twice this summer. And we began the vigil of care. Cleaning her up, feeding her, assisting in toileting, and enduring the foul odor which permeated everything in my office. She needed a bath but first she had to survive the night.
My daughter and I tended to her hourly all day and night. And that little sweetie did her part too. Purring to let us know that not only was she alive but that she was happy and content and feeling all the love being lavished upon her.
My daughter pulled the night duty (I mean she is the one who caused all this ruckus to begin with) and reported at 4:30 am that she was doing better and more active.
I woke up about 6 and cautiously opened the door, I am always terrified that they will be dead. I would be lying if I didn’t say that for the first four months of my children’s lives that I entered their rooms or the space they inhabited in the same manner with the same thoughts. I have always been so terrified that something I love so much will just disappear.
But I was greeted with tiny little mews and eyes as wide open as allowed. She was up and hungry and not so quiet about it. She ate voraciously and she purred her heart out. She firmly committed to doing her part to remain.
I said that I would find her another home if I could save her but everyone I said that to knew I was lying. I love her and I will keep her even though the last thing I need is another cat. I am approaching the dangerous number of five (where all men say thanks but no thanks). But I don’t care - I love her and she belongs right here in our home.
I am selfish like that. I have long admired people who can foster. I get too attached and do not let go easily or well. It is a hard thing to pour all that love into another being just to send it away. I fail every time.
So in addition to having my mother think I have lost my mind (again) and probably placing myself outside the acceptable limit of cats one woman can have and still have a man be interested...I move forward with intrepid love. Loving her and all my animals in a way and manner that means that my heart opens and breaks every time they falter.
I know little boo is not out of the woods. She is right in the middle of the darkest forrest but she is alive and sleeping peacefully now. And if she does go, at least we were able to show her what love and compassion and affection and grace feel like before she goes.
I faltered yesterday for a moment when I saw how gravely ill she really was, I thought “just turn away - this will not end well and that ending will hurt...you can just turn away now and spare yourself the pain and the loss...”
But I am growing up. And I am moving toward the pain I have so long been avoiding. Welcoming it in, opening my heart and moving toward the pain and heartbreak and loss and grief. I am not going to shirk away from it and remove myself from the life of the living. To live is to suffer. The Buddha said that. And I know that it is the truth. I have suffered likely more because of all my efforts to avoid feeling the pain and suffering. Trying to avoid it has really only brought more, for me, for you and for everyone...always.
And I experienced something that I have missed until this point in my life - that heartbreak is how we grow. And every time I shy away, sheltering my tender, fearful heart, I miss another opportunity to love more, better and more fully. Sure heartbreak sucks, but today, because I was willing to move toward it despite all my fear, my heart beats in my chest more boldly and proudly than it did yesterday. My heart beats better because of the distance, the gap, I bridged yesterday.
I am grateful, humbled and completely in love with her tiny, little life. And I am honored to be in her world, my tiny little Goose Snow Cone.