Contrary to the old adage, timing isn’t everything. Not exactly. Cupcakes are something, and so are wombats and stirrup pants.
But sometimes, timing is downright divine.
It’s all happening again.
We regularly hear the distant ruffle of wings at Tabby’s Place, just audible enough to know there are angels around. Things happen in their good time, all the time. But there have been a few cases where timing has been dern near everything.
In 2008, nobody was seriously thinking about Bagheera getting adopted. Much as we stand by the belief that no cat is truly “unadoptable,” it’s kind of like believing in gravity or the Holy Spirit: you can’t physically see what you trust, but just when you start to disbelieve - consciously or otherwise - the invisible reality shouts a reminder. The apple drops; God’s grace catches you; a cat who “should” be “unadoptable” gets adopted.
In 2008, Bagheera was the neediest, special-est Special Needs cat Tabby’s Place had ever taken. Jonathan recalls that, when first asked to take the big, black cat who’d been hit by a car, he feared we couldn’t handle it. A paralyzed cat? Would he have any quality of life? Even if it were possible, could we provide it? Bumbling, imperfect, still-learning us?
Jonathan took that leap of faith, and Bagheera skittered his way into Tabby’s Place c. 2004. We quickly learned two things: (a) we could, indeed, give Bags the quality of life he deserved, and, (b) he would forever change ours. But even as we learned that Bagheera had more to give than he’d ever ask, we never really expected that he would be adopted. He was Tabby’s Place’s Paraplegic Cat, the one and only, the living epitome of what Tabby’s Place means, now and forever.
On that inauspicious-looking day in 2008, Dr. M didn’t look like a superhero. But we’re unwise to expect our crime-fighters and wonder-workers to always come clad in bright leotards or masks or Mighty Mantles Of Power (although those sound cool, and I kind of want one). Maybe they’re likelier to hide the extraordinary just beneath their regular old blue jeans and sandals. In the space of a few hours, the miracle was dreamed, born and accomplished: Bagheera was adopted. Dr. M was his mama. Boom. “And now,” Jonathan awed, “I know that anything is possible.”
Fast forward five days or so. The scene: Tabby’s Place, deprived of a paraplegic cat. We didn’t know the depth of the void until we fell into it. But voids and abysses never win.
The phone rang. Our e-mails lit up like Christmas trees. The plea was made.
A paraplegic kitten named Tashi needed a haven, tout de suite. He already had friends, praying people and allies coast to coast. He could come from Ohio - in the care of his loving Auntie - as soon as we could take him. Could we take him?
One week earlier, the answer would have been a tearful “no.” To keep giving Bagheera the best, we couldn’t take on a Tashi. But the cats and their Maker had the timing down pat, and nobody fumbled the baton. Bagheera’s adopter’s tail lights had barely cleared the gate to Tabby’s Place before Tashi’s flight was landing.
The next three years and two months at Tabby’s Place would unfold under the reign of Prince Tashi, our absolute monarch (and, yes, absolute power does corrupt absolutely…but Tashi turned us into collective putty long ago). The torch had been passed; the impossible was made possible. An international extended family of sponsors, supporters, prayer warriors and super-souls (human and otherwise) took courage in the love of a single tabby. It took a coast-to-coast network to get Tashi to Tabby’s Place, and he repaid their determination by giving hope in almost every time zone on the planet.
So what if he was unadoptable? He had his lifelong calling at Tabby’s Place, right?
Oh, Flangela, you foolish little woman.
It all happened again.
As you now know, Tashi was not unadoptable by a long shot. As timing would reveal, he wasn’t here a day longer than the Grand Design intended.
January 2011, the phone rang. Our e-mails lit up like Christmas trees. The pleas were made.
A tiny tabby (tablette?) with spina bifida, named Dot, needed a haven, molto rapido. She already had friends, praying people and allies coast to coast. She could come from Virginia - in the care of her loving Auntie - as soon as we could take her. Could we take her?
Divine timing opened the Dot matrix.
Born in a garage, the infant Dot never got those back legs moving quite right. The garagekeepers brought the pocket-sized tabby to a vet, who diagnosed spina bifida. Most common in human beans, this rare birth defect occurs in the womb, when the person/kitten is still an embryo. Dot’s vertebral arch never fused properly, leaving her incontinent and unable to use her rear legs.
You might say it would be impossible to find a home for a kitten like that. And you would be right…provided you know that the impossible is possible.
The keepers of Dot’s garage (make no mistake: it was hers) left the special smidgen in the care of a neighbor. Cue the ruffling of wings - this “neighbor” was no ordinary human bean. Despite her own full house of pets and full schedule of caring for an elderly parent, AngelNeighbor launched into action, lovingly making special clothes for Dot and patiently diapering her. Unable to care for her long-term, AngelNeighbor ensured that Dot’s short-term was sweet. With a wing and a prayer, she fired off an e-mail.
Maybe an e-mail to a coalition of cat rescuers would help. Maybe an e-mail to the mayor or the president or the emperor would get some attention. But AngelNeighbor chose a pitch-perfect, utterly unexpected audience: homeschooling moms.
Somewhere in that recipient list was a woman we’ll call AngelG. (An aside: despite the fact that “AngelG” sounds like someone who should be married to a guy named Fresh Ice SupaDupa G, she is not, to the best of my knowledge, a rap star. AngelG, please correct me if I’m wrong.) Unbeknownst to AngelNeighbor, AngelG had made a resolute choice that morning. A mighty warrior on behalf of needy cats, AngelG was weary. Even Joan of Arc needs to lower her sword sometimes, and AngelG told herself: today, I just cannot read any e-mail about cats in need.
That’s what AngelG said. But as AngelG puts it, Someone else said: “AngelG, today I assign you the impossible. Love, God”
When AngelG opened her decidedly non-cat-related homeschool e-mail, she found herself face-to-face with the face about to be seen ’round the world.
All things are possible.
Indeed it would be impossible for us to take Dot. With not one, but two essentially paralyzed cats (Tashi and Gabby), it wouldn’t be right, or possible, or - most of all - loving for us to take Dot. Even when it makes us weep and gnash our teeth - and, trust me, I’m not being metaphorical here - we have to say no. It’s not loving to any cat to take on more than we can handle. Not loving, and not possible.
But “not possible” exploded the minute it hit the Dot matrix. Maybe if Tashi was adopted, we could have taken Dot. Maybe if Gabby was adopted, we could have taken Dot.
With Tashi and Gabby adopted together, God was just making sure we caught the giant neon flaming cupcake-scented exclamation point on the end of the mandate: you will take Dot and you will love her forever!
We already do.
Mark tomorrow in the calendar of your heart: Friday, January 13th, Dot becomes Tabby’s Place’s newest angel. The journey begins again.
I close with a surprise from the start of this momentous week in the matrix. On Monday, I brought in a new wall calendar for my corner of Tabby’s Place. It’s a standard old $4 Walmart calendar with photos of wolves. I think it had the dazzlingly creative title: “Wolves.” Not “Miracle Wolves” or “Wonder-Wolves” or “Dot’s Wolves.” So it was unexpected in the least when, as I took the calendar out of its plastic, out fell a large piece of cardboard reading as follows:
“God is never early and He’s never late - He’s always right on time and His plans for you are good.”
No, Dottie darling, timing isn’t everything. In the end, it’s all grace. Welcome home, Dot.
PS: Special thanks to AngelG and her team of heroes for these unspeakably sweet photos of Dot, Dottie, Dorothea, Dottalicious…yesh, my heart and apparently brain are already mushified.
PPS: You bet your butterscotch that Dot will soon be sponsorable. Stay tuned.