Before we forge ahead, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Following Tashi‘s death, it feels sacrilegious to just pick up and go on with the business of joy.
But maybe subversive is more like it.
Tashi did subversive like no one else. Whenever Tabby’s Place humans moped or crabbed or gathered around the dying embers of a loss, Tashi promptly changed the subject to life. He’d knock over a garbage can. He’d begin spinning, inexplicably, in feline wheelies. He’d bunt his head into your hand and X-ray your soul with his eyes.
Tashi had no time for despair. I suspect that, from where he is now, he has even less patience for our grumpery.
And I strongly suspect that, in Tashi’s honor, the most subversive thing we could do at this moment would be to seize the joy wherever it’s found. Make no mistake; it’s as eager to be found as the last three-year-old left in a game of hide-and-seek. In this season of searing loss, there have been rumors of great gain.
Among those rumblings: lifeless Phoenix has — quite literally — risen from the dead. One-eyed, 800-year-old Ruby has abandoned adversity for the lobby. Three catsicles have outlasted a polar vortex (more on the whole lot of ’em soon). And in the everyday sort of miracle that we forget to gasp at, approximately one hundred cats have been loved mightily in the quiet revolution that is Tabby’s Place.
I don’t dare claim that these victories mean all is mended, war is over, happy Christmas et al. Not at all. Not yet.
But I dare to believe that they are rumors of a truer world, and that these exceptions will someday be the rule.
Think of a movie theater. You’re there with your 55-gallon drum of butter sprinkled with popcorn and your imagination. Do you ever see a preview and think, “Hmm, I wish they would make that movie someday”? Do you ever see a trailer for a Channing Tatum action flick and think, “Looks great, but I think that’s actually going to star Mandy Patinkin as a middle-aged dubstepping podiatrist who saves kittens”?
Of course not. You believe that what’s been previewed will premiere in all its fullness. Just because you saw five minutes of Will Ferrell running around like a Brillo-headed buffoon with a heart of gold, you’re confident you’ll soon be able to see an hour and thirty-six minutes of Will Ferrell running around like a Brillo-headed buffoon with a heart of gold. (Actually, I am quite confident you will. Repeatedly. But I digress.)
Why do we temper our hope when it comes to previews of what we want most?
Tashi wouldn’t do such a thing. The cat who ate cardboard, danced with goats and figured out how to train kittens to knock contraband food into his lap would never settle for “all we’ve got is all we’ll get.” He would subvert.
What if we let our hopes go cage-free?
Think of the famous story of Lazarus. You know this one: guy lives. Guy dies. Guy stays dead long enough to stink. Jesus raises guy from dead. Guy lives again. Full of win.
Not so fast. We can be sure that, maybe five or ten or eighty years later, guy goes ahead and dies again. All is not mended. Death is not dead.
But what if this resurrection is a preview of a film that’s already been wrapped, and the promotional blurb of a story that will never, ever end? What if each YES is pointing to the really real reality just beneath the surface? And what if, someday — maybe soon — that surface will swell and tauten like a thing of Jiffy-Pop, finally to burst into glorious day?
To hope, on this earth, is to dare to say that things are not as they should be. We hope with our fists in the air against all the forces of death and hell. We hope with songs in our lungs for a deathless joy that won’t hold back forever. We hope subversively.
And we hope because, in some small, startling way, we get to be part of the path from here to there.
Tashi’s superabundance of life was a foretaste. Phoenix’s “resurrection” was a preview. Ruby’s fullness of joy is just a sip of the waters that never run dry.
Believe the previews. And keep those hopes free and wild. Tashi would have it no other way.
Photo credits from de top: amazing Heather x2, amazing Denise, Flangela, Jonathan, Denise.