Breaking the fast

Breaking the fast

Are there things you must do before you can go through with being you?

In order to start your day, do you require Apple Jacks in oat milk, or ten jumping jacks in front of the mirror, or a reminder that flowers return?

Mae knows a thing or two about taking ornery mornings by the horns.

Mae does not grasp coffee or yoga or — what is wrong with these bipeds? — the need to check on what is making people angry on Twitter. But Mae shares your need to start the day with some sort of sun salutation.

She is as earthy as one perfect oat. She is an oil painting entitled All The Hues Of Granola. Mae is a matriarch made of silk and time.

But before Mae’s day can get underway, she needs breakfast.

I do not mean the can of tiny shrimps, although that is always welcome. I do not mean the glistening “good mornings!” of twelve volunteers, although they are Mae’s favorite sparrows. I do not even mean the tiny dry stars that taste like hamburger cereal.

I mean the flapjacks of forgiveness. (This is also the name of Prescott‘s Pink Floyd tribute band.)

You would not guess it from the dough of her matronly belly, nor the mild muesli swirling in her kind eyes. But Mae made waves in the cereal bowl before she came to Tabby’s Place.

The report was as succinct as its implications: “bit staff finger.”

At a crowded shelter, invitations to cozy kitchens are in high demand. Adopters are enchanted by easygoing Eggos, the cuddlers as mellow as Cream of Wheat. Tabby Toaster Strudels squiggle icing-like affection. Kittens bounce like Kix.

An old cat who “bit staff finger” is as appealing as expired All-Bran.

But forgiveness is the fiber that keeps life moving.

Forgiveness is the free lunch that fills the fearful.

“Forgiveness” is really the wrong word for Mae’s meal ticket, because it implies she did something wrong. The only error in Mae’s ways was being born into a world where thirteen-year-old cats shiver in shelters, and fear strews scenarios like Grape-Nuts.

The only breakfast fit to fuel her day is: forgetting the past.

In the deep bowl of Tabby’s Place, the roly-poly calico is new. She wakes to windows with cat-sized perches. She rises to staff and volunteers who leap to their feet to greet her with albacore and accolades.

She stirs between cats who have chosen her company simply because they’re all in the same spoon, their colorful histories tinting the milk a million hues of marvelous. Gulliver was not expected to survive. Shelley was not expected to sweeten on our species. Tux was not expected to tip his top hat to eighteen years, but here he is, ready to vote in his first presidential election.

Mae may not have expected all this acceptance. Maybe that’s why she walks so softly, as though stepping on croissants, as though forgiving the past that poured her into this present.

Mae “bit staff finger,” and she left marks on her record. She cowered in her crate and came to no one’s attention.

She woke up at Tabby’s Place, and the awakening has begun.

She can do no wrong. She cannot lick off all the mercy. She cannot have a bad morning.

So Mae stretches, and yawns, and welcomes the day.

She eats the fish she could not catch and leans into hands that are always gentle.

She hears a dozen nicknames that won’t let her forget she is not forgotten.

No matter how hard she tries, her feet won’t touch bottom.

After thirteen years of breakfasts, most humans have reason to ask forgiveness. But the newest teenager at the table is as innocent as bread. May all her fears be drowned in syrup.

May all of us old cats find grace for our quick teeth.

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