My friend Glenn moved into the Development Office this week.
My friend Glenn is moving all the furniture in my heart.
My friend Glenn could be forgiven if he foreclosed on the world.
In a certain light, you could say that time has been less than kind to my friend. While other cats were accumulating kisses and velveteen beds and tubes of aqueous poultry, Glenn was acquiring ailments.
Hyperthyroidism, which is common and OK.
Arthritis, which hurts.
A huge pile of years, which hurt.
Laryngeal paralysis, which is so rare, our valiant Senior Veterinary Technician Denise has only witnessed it twice in 23 years.
It’s this last condition that would cause lesser cats to crumble, shaking their fists and snarling, “the world is fiend, not friend.” (I am speaking, of course, of non-feline cats. Cats rage and rampage, but they don’t despair. Never have, never will.)
Glenn’s larynx, unlike yours and mine and Pitbull’s and Bartholomew’s, stays open when it oughtn’t, making it hard to breathe or swallow.
But my friend Glenn’s heart stays open when it ought, making it easy to sing.
My friend Glenn sings all day, the fluttery flap in his fragile throat causing a tireless whirry white-noise.
My friend Glenn sings all day, the open door in his soul spray-painting sunrise in all directions.
My friend Glenn was fifteen before he came to Tabby’s Place, the place where love is brave enough to brace itself against the sharp edges of the world.
My friend Glenn was older than a high school sophomore when he came to the Kingdom of the Unconditional, the cathedral of kindness that some call crazy, the garden where everything grows but guardedness, the realm without reservations or “reasaonable” limits on love.
My friend Glenn has not been sophomoric a single day of his life.
My friend Glenn glimpsed love long before we cradled his bony apricot body. Someone fed him; someone pitied him; someone and someone and someone did enough to keep him going, if not enough to swaddle him in cherishment. But where lesser apricots would begrudge the littleness of these glimpses, Glenn grew larger with each sighting.
My friend Glenn found freckles of friendship along the way, and he connected them into constellations.
My friend Glenn gave no space for self-pity.
My friend Glenn arrived with assurance, a sort of sigh singing from his open larynx and his open heart: “ah. There you are. Of course. I knew I was bound for Love.”
My friend Glenn gives more than he takes, in the way of saints and angels and souls who have suffered enough to know how much kindness counts.
My friend Glenn sings and “snorkels” at my feet, five inches from his friend Bartholomew, the cat who can’t breathe communing with the cat who can’t see, sharing the sweetness that I move too fast to allow to heal me.
My friend Glenn helps me to breathe easy when I forget that I am not my words or my work or my hustle or my popularity or my productivity or my frizzy hair or my freaky fashion sense or my breathless failures or my speckled successes.
My friend Glenn reduces me to love.
My friend Glenn raises me to my full height.
My friend Glenn does not doubt his worth.
My friend Glenn is worth the entire weight of the entire world.
My friend Glenn loves quietly, continually, conqueringly.
My friend Glenn has truffled for grace in grey mud, finding treasure where others find only tragedy, finding love precisely because he never gave up on expecting it.
My friend Glenn reminds me of St. John of the Cross, who said, “where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”
My friend Glenn reminds me of my favorite postmaster, a wry guy who smiles so big he makes me feel like Khaleesi every time I walk through the door. I recently told him, “you make me happy, Willie,” which made him say, “you make me happy, Angie,” which made me remember that love grows when you love, which is within all of our capacity at all times.
My friend Glenn reminds me of geraniums, the hardiest of summer brights, capable of drinking one sundrop and turning it into joy, then turning their beauty outward to bless everyone else.
My friend Glenn reminds me of my other friend Glenn, generosity on two legs, a man incapable of making you feel like anything less than a miracle.
My friend Glenn reminds me to remind my friends of all species that they are miracles.
My friend Glenn has an uncertain future. His larynx is paralyzed. He cannot be safely pilled. He is approaching the age at which he can drive a car, and vote, and enlist in the military, although an apricot of pure peace would never do such a thing. He is approaching the age at which every day is a gift. He has approached every day this way, in the way of the ageless. We will do everything we can for him, regardless of cost, regardless of our own tears, but we are not the heroes in this story.
My friend Glenn is certainty incarnate. His path is as clear as the light behind his cloudy eyes. His love is changing us. His dignity is restoring our own. His peace is promising us that what lies ahead cannot lay us low when we live inside a love that will not let us go.
My friend Glenn is white noise and red-blooded honesty and blue flame: maximum light, complete combustion, every ember spent on warming this world.
My friend Glenn is not afraid.
My friend Glenn is not angry.
My friend Glenn is a glimpse of what we all can be.
My friend Glenn hopes you’ll gather all the glimpses and graces like an armload of apricots.
My friend Glenn hopes that even the littlest lentils of love and mustard seeds of mercy will grow you Glennlike, until you are strong enough to send your own love into the world.
My friend Glenn has come to the Place on earth that can love him best, but the truth is, we need him more than he needs us.
My friend Glenn believes in you and me.
I want to be a lot more like my friend Glenn.