Forever Loved: Pancake

Forever Loved: Pancake

It is and isn’t worse when it’s a kitten.

People do and don’t understand.

People say the wrong things. They do this because they are people; they do this because there are no right things; they do this because they don’t know what we know.

I do and don’t want them to know.

I want them to know, in the place larger than knowledge, what it means to love Pancake. If I could go door-to-door on all seven continents, delivering this experience in wicker baskets, I would.

I want every living being to know what happens when a kitten arrives, smaller than a Belgian waffle, large enough to swell your whole universe.

Pancake had the good fortune — that is the wrong word, but there are no right words — to be found on the road by Tabby’s Place’s angel veterinarian, Dr. Collins.

Dr. C flipped the silver-dollar Pancake into her arms and knew she’d found a vast fortune. Dr. C knows. Dr. C knows too well.

Under a pound, Pancake overpowered whatever defenses we have left at Tabby’s Place. People assume we are smitten because kittens are cute, and they are not wrong, but they are not right. We are smitten because love and littleness know each other’s secrets. We are smitten because life is enormous within a body that fits your palm.

We are smitten because we have been given a perfect friend by no merit of our own.

People do and don’t know the meaning of “perfect.” Their faces go all funny when we hang this flag over an injured kitten, a broken baby with an injury she may not survive. Perfect?

But then, people do and don’t know the meaning of “friend.” Most folks’ entrance fee is high. They require auditions and reference letters and, most of all, time.

We are sloppy linguists at Tabby’s Place. We slather the syrup of “friend” from the hour of arrival. We know too much not to do this.

Pancake became our friend, our baby, our beloved. When she ate, we exulted. When she gained an ounce, we sang sunrise songs. When she struggled, our world stopped turning.

When she became Rey’s foster baby, Pancake glimpsed the world beyond words. This is the true world, the one just under the surface of our own.

Rey would love her without limit. Their devotion would summon centuries. Rey knows what most people don’t know. Rey gave love’s full measure, the kind that knows nothing of weight.

People don’t know how you can feel such a bond with someone so small and new. People stammer. Wouldn’t it be “worse” to lose a veteran, an old cat who’s joined you for a thousand breakfasts?

When you love a kitten, it’s true; the history isn’t there. But time is a poor yardstick for love. I do and don’t want everyone to know this.

When Pancake suffered a sudden blockage, Rey knew what to do. They did everything. They gave everything. They rushed their perfect baby to the emergency vet, and the collective heart of Tabby’s Place accompanied them on that terrible ride. We held our breaths. We held Pancake in our hearts’ front pockets. We prayed. We pleaded.

When Pancake’s blue eyes closed, her final glimpse of earth was unconditional love.

We don’t have words for how we feel today. We will not ask more than words can give. We will not ask people to understand how it hurts to lose a friend so new.

We learn not to tell everyone everything we feel. They will speak pointy words, not because they are bad or callous, but just because they understand the wrong things.

I wish they all knew the love that we feel. I wish they were all covered in the invisible tattoos of kittens whose names they will never forget. I wish I could show them the joy without the agony, but that is more than love can give.

All we can give is everything. All we can expect is love that never ends.

Thanks to Rey, Pancake knew lifetimes of tenderness. Under a pound, Pancake felt the full weight of glory. Over the horizon, she knows what it was to be adored.

All our lives, Pancake will be with us. She is Rey’s baby; she is our perfect friend; she is the secret that every life is worth everything.

Everyone should know.

Until we meet again, beloved Pancake, you are ours and we are yours. Our hearts are broken forever and so very, very grateful.

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