Can I ask you something? (As Jonathan would remark at this point, “Um, ya just did.”)
Seriously, though. Are you feeling a little emotional right now?
We just had that election.
We just lost that Adelaide.
To top it off, you are a beautiful human being facing marvelous and terrible things every single day.
When we’re feeling frayed, one of the best things we can do is curl in the safety of each other’s kindness, finding the human equivalent of head-bonking each other. Anguish makes us isolate, but anguish lies. We need each other, even when we don’t entirely understand each other. Especially then.
In these strange, strained times, Adelaide continues to speak and to heal us beyond the grave. We’ve lost a terrible lot of cats at Tabby’s Place, and I’ve written a dreadful deluge of “obituaries” over the years, but I don’t believe we’ve ever received as many emails of love, sympathy and solidarity as in the echo of Addy.
I was embarrassed, after posting Adelaide’s “Forever Loved,” that I’d said so much about myself. I was even more embarrassed because I’d just thrown down a few of my cards, telling y’all about my pancreas, and suddenly you were writing and calling and seeing me behind the words, and it made me shy and sheepish and ready to hide behind the cats again. It’s not about me. I don’t want it to be about me. I abhor my incidents of navel-gazing, and I feared I’d done Adelaide an injustice by making it about me me me and my my my feelings, and yet…
…and yet, somehow showing yourself gives other people permission to do the same. Everybody needs to be seen, even if you think you don’t. Especially then.
When I wrote about “my” Adelaide, I inadvertently opened the floor to everyone who’d ever loved her. It turns out, in the most beautiful possible twist, that everyone — everyone — thought of Addy as “theirs.”
New Jersey Numero Uno: “Even though she was tiny, she ruled FIV with a velvet paw. Her absence will leave a void that no other cat will ever be able to fill. We are truly blessed for having known Adelaide.”
Manhattan: “I only met Adelaide 2 or 3 times, but I cried so hard when I heard she had passed away. She was so sweet, dainty, beautiful and loving. That look she would give when I walked into her suite or solarium made her go straight and firmly into my heart forever.”
New Jersey Numero Dos: “I will miss her…my sweet girl who ruled the roost in FIV. Am so glad she was loved. Be at peace, little one, until we see you again.”
Scotland: “Oh, sweet Adelaide. My heart sank when I saw there was a special update. I’m tearing up and I never even got to meet her; I can’t imagine how you all must be feeling. I sponsored her after the passing of my own loud and loving cat Summer, who she reminded me of, and reading your stories about her helped me heal. I hope she’s met Summer now across the bridge, and that they keep each other company with stories of all the many people they have loved with all their hearts until we can see them again. (And I hope she does not pop Summer too hard on the noggin, but I want to believe they will be friends anyway. I am sure that souls as kind as those will never be lonely.) She is a beautiful girl, and I know she understood and returned all the love you had for her. Thank you for all the care and kindness that you give these cats, even in the face of the inevitable pain of separation.”
Pennsylvania Part One: “Oh no. This breaks my heart. She was the tiniest, sweetest little angel among all of those big boys in FIV: a gentle little soul. She knew great love, though! Thank you, Tabby’s Place, for giving her such love and care. RIP, pretty baby.”
New Jersey Numero Tres: “My sympathy to you and everyone at Tabby’s Place on the passing of Adelaide. I was sad to see that she had passed. But I feel that she had been well taken care of and was happy there with all of you. She was well taken care of, she got lots of love from all of you, and you gave her a very comfortable life there for her. I was happy to be a sponsor for her. I will miss her updates on her. God bless you all for the wonderful care and love you give all the animals there.”
South Carolina: “I was very saddened when I read that our darling Addy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It took me a long, long time to read your blog. I had to walk away from my computer because my eyes were so filled with tears; I had to read in short bursts. I definitely had to walk away from my computer after reading that you held her for about an hour before saying goodbye. I am so glad that you were there to hold her in her final moments. Even though I did not get to meet our Addy, I miss her. As I listened to ‘This Train is Bound for Glory,’ I could imagine Addy really enjoying that song. I also can imagine that, when Addy was in her Adelaide frame of mind, she would loves to have Luciano Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma to her. Rest in Peace, darling Adelaide. We will meet again.”
New Jersey Numero Cuatro: “I first met Adelaide two weeks ago, and she let me have the pleasure of her sitting on my lap and hand feeding her some wet food. She was quite a little lady, and I am teary eyed over hearing this news. Though I only met her once, she left her paw print on my heart.”
Maryland: “I’m so sad to hear about our beloved Addy. As parents of one senior and two elderly and kitties, we know how precious our time is with these magical creatures. I’m grateful that Addy was able to spend her last months in the haven of Tabby’s Place. Thank you for all the work you do.”
Pennsylvania Part Two: “I am so, so sorry to hear about Addy. Very sorry. I was looking forward to seeing her in a few weeks, when I was hoping to visit as a reward for finishing another 2 semesters of grad school. However, I am hoping my Tillman has met Addy at their end of the rainbow bridge, and perhaps they are napping together right now as I type. My husband is bewildered by why I would choose to go through this pain again and again (since I was 5 and lost Tiger), and I tell him it’s like that Garth Brooks song: ‘I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance.’ Glad you and I got to dance with Addy for a while. We’re the better for it. And since I intend to head for the rainbow bridge myself someday (no way am I spending the next life with these humans!), I know I will see her and Tillman and Tiger and the dozens of other cats and dogs that danced with me in this life. I am hugging you virtually. I loved Addy through her updates.”
California: “I am so very sorry to hear about Adelaide. I loved getting the updates on her, and hoped to meet her someday. She sounds like she was a remarkable kitty, and even though I never met her, I loved her very much. My heart goes out to everyone at Tabby’s Place. Adelaide was so lucky to have been cared for and loved so deeply by everyone there. It is heartwarming to know she passed knowing lots of love and peace. I was very honored to sponsor Adelaide. Thank you for all the wonderful caring and love you give all the cats at Tabby’s Place; you are all beautiful angels.”
New Jersey Numero Cinco: “My heart breaks to know that Adelaide has gone from this earth. I have loved ‘having’ a little girl. Her departure sounded so much like my Willy’s journey to the Rainbow Bridge.”
Pennsylvania Part Three: “We are so sorry for your loss of Adelaide and are sure she is watching over you and her furry buddies. I will always remember her as the only FIV+ cat who totally stopped me from taking photos with her love. I know you will never forget her bright light…I send you peace and comforting energy to help you.”
Canada: “Your message about Adelaide was so emotional, we just wanted to give you a hug! We were so sad to hear it, too. Gosh, we knew it was coming, but it still broke our hearts. With the good comes the bad sometimes. Thank you so much for all you do, and pass that along to everyone there. You are all a light of caring in this world, and it does us good to let us be a part of these kitties’ stories.”
The truth is, Adelaide thought of each one of you — and so many more of you — as “hers.” You were her personal lights. You still are. And we shall always be, together.
It is a comfort that Adelaide evoked so many songs. Thank you for these, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. The music goes on.