When situations go sideways, as situations sometimes do, we tend to assign a certain speed to the process.
You’ve heard the phrase a thousand times: “the situation is deteriorating rapidly.”
But is it? Why so speedy, situation?
Maybe everything is moving as deliberately as one Allie Rosenberg.
Weather wrecks a day of boating. Bad news turns your bicycle basket upside down, dumping out all the flowers and replacing them with spiders. Uninvited changes change our plans.
But maybe the situation is mending very, very slowly.
“Very, Very, Very Slowly” was the poem Allie was writing about her situation when she left us this morning.
It had been “situation: critical” when Allie spiraled our way last fall. As the Eeyore-faced heart of a feral colony, she scared the whole Hundred-Acre Wood by circling uncontrollably.
Allie’s devoted caregiver scooped her up and rushed her to that Situation Room that rumbles with love: Tabby’s Place.
We’re all too familiar with hopeless situations, searing situations, deteriorating situations. But you might say we’re a stubborn ship of scalawags with a gift for shaking our little fists at the stormy sky.
When we’re determined to sail or to surf or to save a life, no rapidly rottening forecast is going to firebomb our day at the beach, even if the beach turns into Normandy, even if we age fifty years in the process.
At age twelvish, Allie needed our feisty hope. That’s a promise we always keep, and soon the unkempt circler was in the deep keep of safety, the circle of best forever friends.
The medical situation was deteriorating rapidly. The larger story was sweetening very, very, very slowly. Slow like maple syrup. Slow like mercy. Slow like anything worth its while.
Allie was worth every whit of the while.
Intensive care stopped the death spiral; treatment for toxoplasmosis stopped the spinning.
If everything hadn’t gone hideously wrong out there in the forest, everything couldn’t have gone tenderly right at Tabby’s Place.
But Allie’s story was only getting started.
The little tuxedo had entered the sea that demands no speed, which was fortunate, since her default pace was “ocean of oatmeal.” Shy at first, then shy at second, third, and fourth, she had no rapids to ride, no deadlines to meet, nothing but love at love’s pace.
She was ours, and we were at her service.
If we’re anything at Tabby’s Place, we are rebels in the service of love, the service of scampish, shy, shimmering cats who “no one else wants.” We chase fear down every alley until every Allie knows herself adored.
Bashful and beloved, Allie never wanted to stand out, but she couldn’t help but stand tall in our hearts. Her office-mate Danielle gave her oceans of love. Our entire team treasured her.
You simply can’t hide at Tabby’s Place, even if we have to translate grace into very, very, very slow mercies.
Allie’s pace was perfect, because Allie was perfect.
And perfect was the poem she scrawled with her half-smile, the grin that only looked grumpy. “Very, Very, Very Slowly,” she was mending, mellowing into a cat whose every situation was adoration.
This is what we do at Tabby’s Place.
We spite the situation when it shouts, and then we turn it into something entirely new, packed with purpose and perseverance.
And when the situation has deteriorated so rapidly that there’s nothing left to do but hold each other, we shake our fists and shake the heavens and pack it all with presence.
That’s where we found ourselves this morning, when Allie was found. Our tender team rushed her to the emergency vet, but Allie’s black-and-white boat had sailed for softer shores.
And all we can do now is bear witness to her gentle life, and bear life forward, to Allie’s many allies.
Our hearts are breaking, but the situation is not deteriorating.
It can feel otherwise.
It can feel like the situation is shaking us from the comfy confines of our canisters. It can feel like the situation is setting little fires all over our homestead.
But maybe it’s all in service of unloosing us on the world as light.
Maybe it’s not deteriorating so much as detonating despair into fireworks.
Maybe we’re not asked to ride the rapids, breathless and fearful, at the mercy of the situation.
Maybe we’re surfacing into something new, at the speed of water, languid like an Allie.
Maybe every heartbreak makes us love that much more.
Maybe we’re mending Very, Very, Very Slowly. And, in the process, maybe we’re doing our atom-sized part to mend the entire world.
This is the situation at Tabby’s Place every day of every week.
And you, precious readers, are along for the ride. By casting your lot and your love onto our deck, you’re bound for the same beachhead as all of us scalawags and cats.
We are together. We are stronger than the situation. We are bright and salty and stuck to these cats like glitter on a disco ball, like confetti on a cupcake, like mercy on the face of the brokenhearted world.
Like love on an Allie, forever our Allie.
Until we meet again, little princess, our lives are a sweet situation for having held you.