The world never knew her. No golden frames contained her face. Her story was as silent as snow.
Possum arrived on the shortest day of 2022. It was excruciatingly evident that her odds were long. We couldn’t have known that her time was so short.
It wouldn’t have mattered.
All that mattered was Possum.
Every cat longs for light, from the belly-up baskers in the solarium to the sunbeam sleuths of the lobby. But few have known darkness’s name quite like Possum.
Her face was a full moon of fear that day, eyes cratered by the chaos she’d carried alone. Her ears and her peace were shredded. Her soft, shaky body was besieged with wounds. It all combined to give her the appearance of that brave, gentle North American marsupial, so misunderstood and under-loved.
But darkness can be overcome, if love says you matter.
She mattered the moment Animal Control carried her into our firelight. No, that’s not quite right; she had mattered long before we met her, long before any human called her “worthy,” long before she had any name other than the one given to her by the moon.
We simply had the honor of reminding her.
We reminded Possum of her worth. Tending to her wounds, our vet team moved as slow as the sunrise to avoid causing any unnecessary pain.
We reminded Possum of her kittenhood. However many years she’d walked alone, she was young again, new in our arms and ageless in our hearts. She mattered as much as any crowd-pleasing cutie. She would be coddled as much as any magical munchkin.
We reminded Possum of her beauty. With flowing food and flowery songs, we insisted she was the most breathtaking cat in all the kingdoms. Accepting our offerings, Possum gingerly tried on the soft sweater of mercy. It was all new. Light is a lot for eyes that have known the long darkness.
As innocent as the solstice, Possum peered into each set of eyes, studying our constellations. Would love last? Was this electric light, or true fire?
Slowly, the answer overtook her. Yes.
We had our own questions. What had happened to Possum, and could we heal her? Our initial hypothesis of frostbite turned out to be false. An animal attack? No. As possibilities dropped into darkness, only one remained.
Possum had aggressive cancer.
The hour was late. Possum would not see springtime again. We would have to warm her last winter.
A thousand fairy bulbs lit Possum’s days. There were tender bath-times and endless feasts, stolen kisses and soft blankets straight from the dryer. And when sunset came, Possum bathed in light. Selfless Drew brought her home for the ultimate foster love-fest, the kind of cherishment that only comes for a creature who matters very, very, very much.
Winter was robbed of its fears and reminded of its gentleness, its soft pastels and candle nights, its persistent grace and permission to rest.
Tucked into our quarantine wing like a sacred secret, like a candle in a cavern, like a heart in a body, Possum was unknown to the world. No visitors asked for her by name. No press releases told her tale.
It didn’t matter. She mattered.
In the end, Possum was with us less than a season, scarcely more than a moon cycle. Flinty minds or mathematical hearts might say it was an awful lot of fuss for a cat whose light was so late and little.
To which we say: no light is little.
No cat is too late.
No love is wasted.
To hearts who know, no explanation is necessary.
She was a Tabby’s Place cat.
She will smile back forever from the golden frames of our hearts.
And someday, when we’re all swapping stories in the Great Sunlight, everyone will know that Possum mattered.
Until we meet again, cherished moon, shine on.