GOATs on the road

GOATs on the road

Once you have been loved, you can do almost anything.

You can string the universe together by sheer force of cheese.

You can command all the laps in New Jersey.

You can receive 98% of the vote, all precincts reporting, and enact Burritos For All on your first day in office.

But there is one road forever closed, once you have been loved.

Mullet and Malora (photo courtesy of Kitty LeFey)

When Mullet slipped onto the freeway where we cannot follow, Malora had no choice but to travel alone.

Cats grieve in silence deeper than words. Sorrow radiated off her body like humidity.

The two pastel cats had been as one. Mullet’s acceptance quilted into Malora’s affection, until no one could tell where one cat began and the other ended. Mostly, they just began, and began, and began.

To love is to begin a journey with no horizon. To be loved is to ride shotgun in the only car that never rusts.

To lose your beloved is almost too terrifying to survive.

Malora did not give up, but she tucked herself into a woeful way-station. She gave up grooming herself. She gave up greeting visitors. She gave up everything, except the thing she was forbidden to lose.

Once you have been loved, you cannot forsake loving.

Like all who grieve, Malora would have disagreed. She could have written a dissertation debunking the existence of a future. Mullet was the Greatest Of All Time — the GOAT, as they say. There would not be another Mullet. Malora would not snuggle into another sidecar. She had loved the best. She would not consider the rest.

Malora and Bing

Malora might have enjoyed a visit from a human mourner, if she weren’t morally opposed to enjoyment.

Tabby’s Place is a soft place for grief to fall, but it turns torrential at times. People with empty arms are full of prophecy, thundering, “I will never adopt again.” “I cannot go through this again.” “I would not love the next one as much. It isn’t possible.”

But once you have been loved, you do not get to patrol the perimeter of the possible.

Just over the vanishing point on the sea of tears, Malora’s future was revving.

A white blizzard spun out of control. Beneath briers and bravado, Bing had his lumberjack heart broken. The atlas is too faint to read, but somewhere between Tabby’s Place and “today,” life sawed the branch out from under Bing’s nest. Thrown outdoors, with no wings to fly, he was a fledgling lost in a full-size body.

It had been a long time since anyone called Bing the Greatest Of All Time.

But the titles that matter are always for keeps.

Possibilities were piling into the car. They jostled for the steering wheel. They buried their faces in Bing’s long hair. They unearthed the treasure map. They brought him back to Tabby’s Place, the place where he first learned that he was loved.

They brought him to Malora.

I am too small to speculate on how friends find each other. I am no more qualified for that, than to catch a comet’s tail, or convince a cat to give vegan cheese a chance. I can only tell you that, once you have been loved, you cannot keep the lid on love forever.

You may grieve, and stop grooming, and jam your heart’s vents with “nevers.” You may turn your face to the wall, refuse to descend the ramp, and swear off the solarium.

You cannot forget that someone believed you were the Greatest Of All Time.

You cannot convince yourself that “All Time” ends.

You do not know quite how the road will rise to meet you.

Malora knows more than I do, but not even she could predict Bing. Yet there he was, a snowy shag face that felt like home.

She was angry with death. He was unsure of new life. Greatness beheld greatness. Love stopped short at its own reflection.

Two lonely cats let love do what it does best, which is the impossible.

And, somewhere across the horizon, a creamsicle cat with hazel eyes smiles.

Once you have been loved, you get to be the GOAT forever.

Once you have been loved, you can do anything but stop loving.

A friend of mine relentlessly reminds everyone she knows: “You have not yet met everyone you love and everyone that will love you.”

I believe she is right. I believe we will all jump like children in crowded fields of GOATs before this is all over.

I believe nothing that matters will ever be over.

Leave a Reply