It’s everyone

It’s everyone

It’s not just you. It’s not just Olive.

Everyone is going through a hard time.

Good thing we know a sanctuary.

Olive is subjected to treasonous acts every day of her life. Bipeds inflict pink undergarments. Sometimes Olive’s dastardly diapers have ribbons or flowers. Olive is forced to maintain a grueling schedule of greeting visitors, dispatching moths, and protecting the world from archvillains while looking like Strawberry Shortcake.

Olive assumes Buster would never understand. Buster has it made. Buster is the alabaster grandpa to all the sanctuary’s children. Buster has never suffered a day in his seventeen years, which is why Buster appears to be only seventeen months old. Buster is naked and free.

Being a good grandpa, Buster lets Olive filibuster. (This is an excellent strategy for all beings who wish to remain alive.) Buster does not make the conversation about himself.

Buster has not made it through seventeen years unclothed by grief. His person loved him intensely. His person went where Buster could not follow. Buster stayed behind and decided to stay sweet.

But there are mournful hours, even when you are a monument to mercy.

Buster wonders if Prescott has outrun pain. He knows better — he is a good grandpa, after all — but, watching her roller skate, he forgets what he knows. Prescott is a laser flight show. It looks to Buster as though some sugar plum feline waved her wand and turned the word “rejoice!” into a living being: presto, Prescott. Her tail hangs limp, but she hangs giddy garland on the boughs of hours. Is she the one who has been spared?

You know the answer.

Precious Prescott was Precarious Prescott, the cat not expected to last the night. Her injuries were “incompatible with life.” Her stripes, all silver celebration today, were ground into soot. She has chosen not to remember. She gallops like one chosen to remind the children.

If there is one cat who knows that it’s everyone, it’s Prescott. She perfects the art of rumpus with Hips, but she knows there’s a story behind his hippopotamus bottom. He did not lose his tail gambling for beef nuggets with Antin. He does not limp from an excess of internal hip-hop. He may not talk about it — Hips took a monastic vow of “happy-go-lucky” — but Prescott knows. There was pain. When the sky scowls and his joints jeer, there is still pain.

Prescott sprints to Quinn’s Corner and watches other cats refuse gravity’s advice.

It would be easy to assume that Sammy has only ever seen rain on television. It would be easy to assume that Oram and Tucker have an 85″ private television. There is such a glut of glee King Kong-ing through the Quinn’s Corner lobby, they look like the lucky bunch. Someone even mentioned that the FeLV+ cats get orange window seats, bright boxes the color of processed cheese.

But someone else mentioned virulent fears, some pungent alphabet soup that scares adopters. Prescott does not press the issue of “FeLV.” Those lithe strangers have not leapt from victory to victory. The neighbors in the expansion have felt their lives contract.

Small wonders make large sounds behind the Community Room door, and precious Prescott has heard them called “kittens.”

Olive protests their existence, as she does vegan provolone and reboots of ’90s sitcoms. The gladiator in the pink diaper tells Prescott that kittens are innocent and incompetent. They have never missed a breakfast. They are the objects of intergalactic affections. Their wallets are empty of tickets to the Society of Survivors. They get to watch “Bluey” while everyone else weeps over the news.

Prescott wonders. There was a kitten with legs like folded arms. His life was not a soft pretzel. There was a kitten white as new underpants, but some say she was bleached by fright.

There were kittens cuddled from the day they squirmed forth, but every one of them was born with closed eyes and a movable mother who could not feed them continually. And even now, they trip over jingle balls and are forbidden to crawl into file cabinets, no matter how many times they explain that Narnia is inside.

Prescott presses on. It’s not just the scarred and hobbled. The sleek and the lovely, the easygoing and easily-adopted, know about trembling, too.

To live is to walk naked through the tunnel, and to fully live is to feel it all. It is very, very, very good to be here, but we forget, and we fall from the tree, and we need another set of eyes to assure us that we are more than ornaments and accidents.

Prescott welcomes the thought that she is “rejoice” brought to life, but that word was her second choice. Under her exuberance, etched deeper than enthusiasm, Prescott is empathy.

I know this, because I have staggered through the tunnel just like you.

I have staggered out of my office, dropping my keys and my dignity. There have been days that have gnawed my ears to nubs (far less charming on me than on Fergie) and wrung my heart like a holey washcloth. I have been hungry and haggard and older than my fingers can count.

I have wondered if my words, my warmth, and my life’s work have added up to a single speck on a tabby belly.

And my weariest and worst Wednesdays have found a face who knows.

At the end of the most difficult day, without fail, there is Prescott.

She waits for me in “the mother ship,” the original building. The double doors open, and she quiets her curiosity about Quinn’s Corner. She could sprint through, but instead she rears up like a pony on her hind legs, arcs her back like a comma, and chirps my name.

I am telling you, she says my name.

She runs by my side as I cross the Lobby, staring in my eyes as though we are holding hands on the long flight across the universe. I kiss her, and I laugh, and I thank her for reminding me, and remembering me, and righting the crooked world.

And she says, “no sweat.”

And she says, “my pleasure.”

And she asks one thing. “Be what you have received. Be Tabby’s Place. Be a sanctuary.”

And I know this is more than I can ever do. But I am not alone.

It’s not just Prescott. It’s not just me. Everyone is mercy’s child.

1 thought on “It’s everyone

  1. Thank you, Angela – for the tug at my heartstrings and the lump in my throat. It is fitting to be reminded – this time of year and also every ordinary day – we are not alone.

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