Happy clappy June

Happy clappy June

It’s June, my little jitterbugs.

It’s the happiest (handclap) clappiest (handclap) time of the year. Beach time. Pool time. Free-to-be-a-fool time. (Mark your calendars.)

Are you singing? Why aren’t you singing? Sing to me, my angels of music.

Better yet, swing this junebug into the nearest parking lot and tell me the truth, the way a cat would.

The truth is, Tabby’s Place is an exceptionally happy geographical region. The sun may be the center of the solar system, but a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, NJ is the center of all known sunniness.

We have Mika, who commands armies of armpit hairs and belly hairs and everywhere-hairs, for no apparent reason other than awesomeness.

We have Antin, who perplexes paraplegia itself by scooting at the speed of light.

We have Alex, who has done battle with that terrifying motorized toy fish and lived to tell the tale.

We have Honey, who has done battle with cancer and lived to tell the tale.

We have Baby, a weighted blanket stitched with soul, placed upon this earth to personally replace your sads with glads.

We have people who will stop everything to start up their engines for love.

We have volunteers who will drive all day to deliver a single cat to safety.

We have staff who will stand in the hall to listen to you. They will stand in your strangeness beside you. They will stand guard outside the bathroom door when you need to change your shirt because someone with everywhere-hairs has exuberantly urinated upon it, and you don’t want anyone to see your personal armpit hairs whilst you change.

We have more hours of daylight than astronomers can explain.

We have riches beyond all telling.

Flip the omelet fifty times, and it’ll land bright-side up every time.


We have no right to complain.

Bigger bollocks.

We dare not dip our toes into the deep end of lament.

Beach-ball-sized bollocks.

We have it great, and we have it grateful, but even in June, we also have it jumbled and jabby.

Ouch! There goes the sharp claw in your lap as Gator leaps up.

Zeeps! No Olympic fencer could stab with the precision of Hashbrown when he hides, and you see his fear, and you can’t talk him out of it.

Yow! There’s the spiked mace of memory, braining your heart with the howl of grief-out-of-season, January sorrow under June skies.

Why are you missing Rose so much today, of all days, this brilliant beautiful day of bountiful blessings?

Why are you asking existential questions — can I truly make cats and people feel less alone? what does it look like from the other side of the sky? why won’t the fire in my belly get hot enough to toast a marshmallow? — in the singsong summer?

Why can’t you be easy? Why can’t you shake off your sweater, even when it’s sticky outside? Why would you take all this sun for granted?

Why are one hundred cats looking at you quizzically, wondering how to pull you from this quicksand?

Because cats know the truth that toasts every marshmallow: winter and summer, bliss and brokenness, gratitude and grief can live together. Such is the seasoning. Such is the spice. Such is the stew that’s equally good hot and cold.

Nina never aspired to “easy.” No cat ever does. Nina is filled with marshmallows and broken sea glass, sweetness and shards, gratitude and resentment. Nina, like every soul strong enough for summer, knows herself to be a good egg: hard-boiled, soft-hearted, deviled and scrambled, light as meringue and heavy as hope, which is a very different orb than “happiness.”

Denali doesn’t sweat the need for a sweater. Denali, adopted and returned, says happy-clappy months can clobber you with air-conditioning, and the proper response to getting clobbered is to crank up the cozification, whether it’s June or January.

Oram takes nothing for granted, except the confidence that “complicated” doesn’t diminish “exhilarated.”

One of my wisest coworkers once described two cats who came to Tabby’s Place on the same day, as, respectively, “Easy to handle, perfect and beautiful” and “Not easy, still perfect and beautiful.”

I believe we are all both of those cats.

I believe we can lament and jubilate in the same breath.

I believe our longing for Rose doesn’t take away from our very present gratitude for Rashida.

Tabby’s Place is solid sunshine, not in the sense of “all happy, all the zappy-clappin’ time,” but in the sense of sturdiness. The center holds. The gratitude is gigantic even when the tears take over, in or out of season. We are positive people and negative people, grateful grievers who can hold the living and the dead in our arms all at once.

The love between us means we’re allowed to be complicated.

Take it from a girl who was always known for being the happiest in the room, nicknamed “Smiley” on my softball team (arguably because this was kinder than “She Who Hits No Balls”). We need to feel the fullness. We need to be cats. We need to remember that even the songbook of Psalms is full of punk rock like “HOW LONG?”

Joy is our birthright, and Tabby’s Place is the birthplace of bigger blessings than I’ve ever seen, but if we stuff ourselves into the summer box with the tennis rackets and inflatable unicorns, we’ll do ourselves injustice.

We’ll sing ourselves lies.

Cats sing no lies.

Cats stand in the center of our grief with us, unafraid that they’ll block the sun’s rays.

Cats stand by us when we fall to pieces.

Cats promise we’re not insulting the living by longing for the dead; we’re not forgetting the friendships and the grilled cheese and the miracles and the sea lions and the strawberry moon when we can’t squeak out a song.

We’ve seen death dash our dreams like pickles, until we can hardly remember how to relish anything.

We’ve seen life laugh at death until tears pour down its face, and it’s a very short distance from tears to truth to songs.

So feel the fullness, jitterbugs.

You are the summer. You are the winter. You are June and joy and just where you need to be.

After all, you’ve found the center of all known sunniness. The sturdy kind.

Pictured top to bottom: Antin, Honey, Alex, Baby, Hashbrown, Rose, Nina, Denali, Oram, Rashida

1 thought on “Happy clappy June

  1. In this world or ordinary places, I’m glad there is the happy cat place called Tabby’s (where my Steven lives), and the extraordinary Angela, who writes in firefly sparks.

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