Body of work

Body of work

GeorgieWhen you’re human, it’s easy to drowse into climate-controlled forgetfulness.

But when you live with cats, it’s impossible to forget that you are more than your mind.

Georgie, requiescat in pace until the day dust shall dance again
Georgie, requiescat in pace until the day dust shall dance again

If you see folks with dark-grey smudges on their foreheads today, fear not; soot-pooping birds have not firebombed your town.

In the Christian tradition, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. As a priest or pastor smudges ash from the embers of last year’s palms into the shape of a cross, he or she reminds the mind inside each forehead:

      Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Cheerful, I know. But track with me, kittens.

We forget, we creatures of the mind and soul, that we are also creatures of the earth and soil and, yes, dust. Zippy dust, yes, even stardust at our best — but dust nevertheless.

One of the benefits of working with cats is that they remind us of this continually. To love a cat is to love his or her particular flesh and fur and inescapable earthiness.

To love Morgan is to love his sticky-uppy orange fur and quiet meow.

To love Bonnie is to love her raspy nose-breathing and perpetual boogers and oceanic eyes.

To love Casper is to love his knuckled-under walk and forehead smudge of grey glory.

"In these bodies we shall live; in these bodies we shall die. The way you invest your love, you invest your life." - Mumford and Sons...and Dina and Georgie, as expressed beyond words.
“In these bodies we shall live; in these bodies we shall die. The way you invest your love, you invest your life.” – Mumford and Sons…and Dina and Georgie, as expressed beyond words.

To love the late, great Georgie was to love him through the shock of an FIP diagnosis, the bloated belly and grief of goodbye.

The bonds we share are inextricable from the purrs and the poop, the mud and the blood and the beauty of it all.

We are more than our bodies, but we are not other than our bodies.

Whether or not your forehead will be ashed this evening, the promise is for you: you are dust. You are mud. Yet you are also the breath of God. You will return to dust — you, and me, and John Oliver, and the cat you love more than mercy — but we shall be changed.

Ash Wednesday is real. Lent, with its loss of light and chocolate and concupiscence, is real.

But Easter is the reality that will win.

Accept your cats and your ashes, body and all. Accept the ashy glory and earthy essence of yourself and your loves. And accept the hope that hope shall triumph and dust shall dance. The bodies sown in ash shall be raised in undying flame — you, and me, and Georgie, and each one who’s slipped beyond our touch.

You are a piece of work, kittens. And your body, soul and spirit are one fine, complicated, messy and magnificent beast. Press on in this work of love. Your labor is not in vain.

5 thoughts on “Body of work

  1. I hate FIP.

    When I first signed up for the socialization program, Karina assigned me the three tuxies in suite B, Spike, Georgie and Cory. Spike was shy but curious and playful so it came as no surprise that he was first to accept loving and then to see him adopted. Between Georgie and Cory, Cory was the first to eat out of my hand, but he kinda plateaued. That’s as far as I was able to get with him, every time I tried to pet him, he would hiss. At first, Georgie would stay far away from me, so I wouldn’t be able to socialize him one on one. I had to interact with the other cat and he would come to see what the fuss was about. After about a year of socializing Georgie, it got to the point that he would come running with his tail up when I called, and one day, I was very surprised that he allowed me to pet him once! This continued weekly, and each time he would stay longer and allow me to pet him longer and longer. Of course, I could only pet him when I gave him treats. I got to hear a little purr from him and he would sometimes do elevator butt for me. My interactions with him really made me feel good, like I was accomplishing something. It just felt special. After I had my son, I couldn’t come anymore since I live pretty far and needed to spend time with my now toddler, but I was hopeful that someone was still socializing Georgie and that someday he would get adopted. I will miss him and I will treasure the interactions I had with him. Be free and well again, Georgie, I will meet you again, my sweet, shy boy.

  2. To love Felix is to love wet headbutts.
    To love Deanna is to love the big eyes that watch you from under the crates.
    To love Rose is to love a stumpy poopy tail.
    To love Jackie is to love grumpy bites.
    To love Luna is to love the dance of shyness and curiousness.

    I could go on all day. I almost want to. 🙂

  3. We first saw Georgie several years ago on the adoptable cats list and he looked and sounded so much like Trickster – they could have been brothers. We read about him and checked frequently for updates and were so happy when he was mentioned in Angela’s blog. Thank you Tabby’s Place – Jonathan – Angela – and Ayla – for loving and sheltering him – we are so sad, but thankful for the connection we felt to him and Tabby’s Place. We will never forget you Georgie – we love you always.

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