Installing a peacemaker

Installing a peacemaker

A heart can break and break and break, but still live off a hidden wholeness.

For this to happen, you must install a peacemaker.

“Crumpled on the floor” would have been an understandable place to find the man we shall call Heart.

When you are born with excessive love, you make peace with tears. Other humans fit themselves for chain mail by age ten, but Heart was born with his chest open. He was wired to read the letters B-E-L-O-V-E-D, where others see only stripes.

He was called to love the cats who no armored heart would choose.

Heart was a Tabby’s Place man.

We are infatuated with all of our adopters, a genus of humans unto itself. The instant they open their lives to our cats, we all run in like a horde of pacifist Visigoths in scrubs and PURR-FECT T-shirts. We are a proud and rowdy family. Once you adopt a Tabby’s Place cat, you are stuck with us.

And we are stuck on our adopters. When they grieve, we grieve. When they grieve three times in rapid succession, we all fall to the floor.

We do not hold the power of life and death. We do not even know how to hold each other tight enough to stop shaking. So we could only watch as Heart underwent an unscheduled triple bypass.

Three times, he adopted. Three times, his beloveds breathed their last. Three times, Heart held an open chamber for his next best friend.

It was a day more marvelous than marinara when Heart adopted Spaghetti. The angels of his previous alumni, Red and Frederick, rode in his front pocket, purring their approval. Leave it to Heart to choose the rowdy chowderhead of Suite FIV. Leave it to Heart to bless our buoyant black cat with the full weight of love.

Leave it to Heart to be left, yet again.

Darling Spaghetti, forever loved

He had Spaghetti only two months. We wept, and wailed, and went into empathy arrest. We writhed on the floor, grieving for ourselves, grieving for Heart, grieving for a life where death cuts the electricity in the middle of the birthday party.

Heart could not stay down.

Heart could not bear the VACANCY sign on his fourth chamber.

Heart heard the rhythm of one more best friend.

This is not the normal way of humans, but Heart was born flooded with love. Still dressed in grief’s galoshes, he slogged through his sorrow back to Tabby’s Place. He asked for an audience with the ragged cupids of Suite FIV.

Of course it had to be Suite FIV.

He met elegant Lina and prestigious Horace. He honored rugged Rawlings and enjoyed Mr. Mustache‘s twirl.

But Heart was here for the cat named for Shakespeare’s peacemaker. Heart puddled on the floor beside the worried boy whose courage wouldn’t fill a teaspoon. Heart had come for Benvolio.

On the stage, Benvolio cajoles Romeo to the party where Juliet waits. At Tabby’s Place, Benvolio holed up until the National Weather Service’s Party Warning expired. He couldn’t make out his lines in love’s script. He stood motionless between “feral” and “future.”

We are all frozen in terror until some great heart sets us in motion. If we are lucky — though that is not quite the word — it will happen many times over the course of our lives.

If we are Benvolio, we will be Heart’s fourth best friend.

If we are Heart, we are too large for guarantees. The silver cat may live to twenty-eight, or he may cross the mist before Scene IV. He may lay across Heart’s lap until they beat as one, or he may whisper his lines from beneath the couch.

Heart is big enough to love in the dark.

We all have no option but to love in the dark.

“Benvolio” translates to both “peacemaker” and “good-will.” As the cat learns the sound of his own name, Heart will teach him the language large enough even for silence.

They will know the wholeness that only comes for those who can be broken.

They will be best friends.

Floor to ceiling, the chambers will flood with grace.

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