You learn this sooner or later, and it’s my opinion that the ones who learn it soonest are generally the kindest.
We’re made of soft, gooshy stuff, we living creatures. I don’t mean our innards per se, although that’s a squishfest indescribable. I mean our essence, our us-ness, whatever fragile fabric it is that qualifies us as alive.
This is true of flowers. This is true of humanbeans. This is extremely true of kittens.
A certain kitten was simply enjoying the early days of life when, with no advance warning, life pierced his softness. The tabby-and-white wee one — let’s just call him The Wild — knew nothing of human touch, pain, existential angst or that weird carrot salad with raisins. He was innocent. He had been spared many things. So it should be. So it should be forever.
But all is not as it should be.
The Wild was pierced.
In his individual case — and it is always agonizingly individual, this business of being pierced — the kitten was impaled on a hidden whirl of barbed wire. This is an occupational hazard of living in the woods behind a farm, but The Wild walked with no such knowledge. All he knew was that he was stuck, and scared, and seared with pain, and so he screamed.
Screaming is often the sanest response to life’s pinches. No scream, no salvation; no neediness, no needs met.
Wise despite his youth, The Wild wailed. His siren did its job, attracting the attention of a man — we’ll call him The Good — who happened to be working that farm. (As if things ever “happen to” happen, as if there isn’t a greater providence that trumps all piercing. But I digress.)
The Good stopped what he was doing, which is the first step in all loving. He turned, and saw, and his great gigantic heart was touched to see one so small suffering. And so The Good gathered his heavy work gloves and his courage, and set about trying to free The Wild.
There’s no good way to twist a tiny white paw off a barb, so The Good made the call to cut the wire. From there, it was a devoted, determined race to Tabby’s Place, The Wild howling and hollering all the way.
Despite the drama of the injury, it was actually anticlimactically “easy” to heal The Wild. Dr. C and Denise sedated him, removed the barb, and dosed out all the pain medication and other magical elixirs he would need. A few bandage changes from now, The Wild should be as he was.
Well, not quite.
Somewhere in this swirl of events, The Wild acquired not just a full fresco of angels, but a name: Pierce. Once you are named, you belong to someone, or in this case a quirky team of someones, and it becomes more difficult to be alone.
On his first night with us, Pierce clung to all his scraps of wild. As Junior Veterinary Technician Jess delicately described it, “he did not appreciate my attempts to hug him.” Three months running wild and untouched is a long time, and “socializing older kittens” is a touchy process.
But sometimes, being pierced by life when you are very young opens a heart that should be hard and wild. By day two, Pierce was purring, rolling, receiving a love that would never reach a more “self-sufficient” heart, untouched by pain.
And, rest assured; he still does not appreciate attempts to hug him.
Life will pierce you, kittens. It will pound you and pummel you and leave you raw and bare and — if you’re wise and lucky — ready to need and reach and be held and saved. You will always be wild, but once you’ve belonged to someone, you will also be comforted in ways inaccessible to the proud.
And, if you’re very, very fortunate, you may even become Good.