There are things worth being afraid of: pestilence, vegan cheese, the awakening of the 17-year horde of cicadas, people who think it’s a good idea to eat aforementioned cicadas, Christopher Walken.
There are other things not worthy of our fears: change, aging, our own littleness, mystery.
Cats, of course, are no strangers to fear. They fear beeping trucks and loud landlords; they fear delayed dinners and grabby nephews; they fear bad manners and bad writing and people who use the word “bad” to mean “super friggin’ good.” (Also vegan cheese.)
But when it comes to the fears that make our species shiver in the night, the cats think it’s all a barge of flapdoodle.
Consider Edith and Audrey. If their names make you think of classy ladies born during the Woodrow Wilson administration, you’re spot on. These two wizened women came to us with bulging backpacks of years, and the aches and pains to boot.
Edith, albeit estimated to be younger than Bucca (quoth Bucca: “NO ONE IS YOUNGER THAN BUCCA”), appears to gaze at us through the very eyes of age. Her hair is so wiry it’s nearly crispy; there’s a mist and a fog behind her brownish peepers that tells us she’s peeped and persevered through more than we can imagine. Her history at a feral colony — loved but freewheeling, fed but never fully “controlled” — would scare a lesser being.
But, kittens, we are dealing here with the greatest and highest order of beings.
Audrey, all funny face and gamine glory, has the right name, the right home, and the right attitude for everything everyone might encounter. Initial notes worried that she was “shut down,” but the truth is she was just shuttered in her own serene self until the time was right for her Ringoes Holiday. Unlike many of us (and here I’m afraid I am, in fact, your unshuttupable queen), Audrey is expert in the art of keeping quiet when there’s nothing to be said.
Pondering things in her heart.
Holding her tongue and her peace and her composure.
And then, in our very own Suite FIV, holding court with calm and class, all calico courage. When she finally spoke her life into our laps, we hung on every word. She spoke not of her bad teeth, nor her feline immunodeficiency virus, nor the weary years on the farm with Edith.
She spoke life.
And then she stopped talking and got to living.
Edith and Audrey are unrepentantly old, unselfconsiously tired, and unembarrassed to need us, and to receive from us. There is no fearful pretense here, no puff and bluster — only mellowness and an expectation of mercy in the midst of mystery.
We don’t know what lies ahead for Edith, or Audrey, or Yemen, or Brazil, or Ringoes, or you, or me. Perhaps you, like me, have a history of hacking at your fears with too many words. Perhaps we would all do well to take a page from two very old, very wise, very long, very quiet books.
On the days when the not-knowing is too loud, and our own oldness or smallness or slowness or scaredness is too total, two wizened wildwomen are coming for us.
They have known the big sadness.
They have tangoed with the years.
They are the bona fide, genuine, too legit to quit article.
And they are here to remind us that fear is a liar, unless the subject is vegan cheese melted atop cicada bourguignon.