There is a sense in which the sun never sets.
Race ever eastward, leaping longitudes like jump rope, and you will stay in the light.
Nestle in memory, grateful for the days given, and you will stay in bloom.
We were always fighting the sundial and the hourglass. We knew the rules of engagement the day we picked Sunflower: cancer crowned her nose as boldly as the yellow button at every daisy’s heart. Time was not on our side.
But this is Tabby’s Place, where the rules of engagement yield to the marriage of hearts. The marmalade cat would not be Hospice Case #24601. She would be our beloved, our bouquet, our child.
Every old cat blooms backwards at Tabby’s Place, rewinding to the meadow they never should have left. No matter how the sun has scorched their skin, or neglect has scalded their trust, they will be kittens again here. They will be cherished properly, declared the favorite. They grow long-stemmed, their dignity on display.
Like a sunset in reverse, Sunflower reclaimed the day. Time would be her friend, and she would collect best friends like dandelions. Olivia, Mullet, Elliot, McGregor, Vinnie (who was known to smack our staff for medicating Sunflower): they were the kind of wishes you only dare when you are rooted in love. Volunteers and staff and sunstruck visitors: they are the kind of kindnesses that don’t blow away.
Months turned to years, and the sun bronzed us drowsy. The cancer on Sunflower’s nose was ever present, but so was her bliss. The signs of the times were severe, but the marmalade cat was vital.
Sunflower never settled for less than legions of friends, and we never settled into the itchy armchair of resignation. I hope the sun and moon and all the wildflowers will forgive us for forgetting. I hope Sunflower will remember all the light.
I hope Sunflower remembers the hands that became hummingbirds, once so scary, but then so soft. She grew into our chin-skritches, and even the skylights smiled.
I hope Sunflower remembers the “zinnias,” the colorful congress of cats who grew around her like a supporting cast. Just as August fields flaunt yellow stars with red and pink handmaidens, so the celestial Suite E centered on the Sunflower. Her gold made everybody bloom. Her tender heart made everybody beautiful, even supernova buffoons like Hashbrown.
I hope Sunflower remembers that we did everything in our power to keep her comfortable and content, building her funny cat condos and singing her sunny showtunes and sparing her medical ministrations that would not have been in her best interest.
I know Sunflower remembers the light.
I hope we remember the sun never sets.
Light is a luxury in these shadowlands, and we don our headlamps when the hour is late. But grief can’t hold a candle to memory, and the flower who is loved is perennial.
Until we meet again, Sunflower, our friend, our teacher, our queen, walk in the light.