I meditate on this. I cogitate on this. I stuff my hungry heart with this.
I do not, however, remember this.
From the first time I read that little quotation, some years ago, I knew how much I needed it. Perhaps even more than the average awkward human being, I’m painfully prone to fearing that my ship will race off into the distance while I’m looking for one last seashell on the shore.
After all, doesn’t that happen?
Don’t opportunities get missed or mangled or snatched away?
Don’t meant-to-bes turn into might-have-beens, and aren’t those the saddest words of tongue or pen?
Or is it actually true — “What is for you will not pass you by” — and we’re generally too numb and dumb and shell-shocked to settle into it?
If that’s the case, it only goes so far as our species. I have yet to meet a cat wracked with regret.*
We — human Tabby’s Place types — had regret wrapped around our necks when Edgar Allan was adopted. Not for E.A. — who had written himself a wonderful story of forever love — nor for his adopters — who would read his blissful face all the days of his life.
But regret, wide and high and deep…for Poe.
Edgar Allan and Poe arrived together, best buds bound up in the same story from the same shelter. We don’t know if they have blood ties, but we didn’t need a horror story to tell us that they’d been through Things together. Exuberant as his orange mug, Edgar was frankly fine with everyone, excited just to exist.
Missing one foot and several shots of courage, petite Poe was rarely seen anywhere but peeking out behind Edgar. Maybe she was shy because her stump — despite being approximately The Cutest Thing In The World(TM) — slowed her down and sped potential adopters down the line to other contestants. Maybe she was anxious because her enormous eyes had seen scary stories.
Most likely, it was just her nature to be careful. A wisp of “worried.” OK, neurotic. You’re not alone, Poeski.
So we wrung our hands and hats and hoop skirts deciding whether or not E.A. and P. had to remain in the same book. Edgar Allan didn’t need his three-footed hanger-on; he just needed other living beings to love, with great gobs of gusto.
But did Poe need her bro? Black cats have a harder time getting adopted as it is, and she had the added disadvantage of visible imperfection…would her odds be greater if we hitched her wagon to her handsome, charming brother’s star?
We waited. We watched. We tiptoed towards the tiny black cat with the orby eyes and the AWOL foot.
And we saw a story writing itself.
First tentatively, then with crisp new courage, Poe soft-shoed her sweet little steps out into The World. (When you live in Suite B, you know; if there’s more world than this, some wider, wilder realm than Matlock And Cheddar‘s Carnival Of Cray-Cray, you don’t need to see it.)
She accepted love.
She Poed her toes all over and found out that it was okay.
So, with no immunity to regret, we made the call: Edgar Allan could go with no Poe attached.
He could. And he did.
There are always straighter paths for the sure and certain, confident and cool, comedians and cuddlers and exuberant extroverts a la Edgar.
No sooner had the door closed behind E.A.’s smiling scooper-uppers than regret roared to life.
Had we done wrong by little P.?
Had what was for her passed her by?
Ah, how we forget and regret needlessly.
Before you could swoon, “Poe no!”, eyes and hearts were trained on three little feet. Poe had a “possible.” Then a “likely.” And soon, oh how soon, a real, flesh-and-blood adopter of her own. Forever.
To be adored for who you are, not shoehorned into ill-fitting expectations, is worth any wait. It’s merciful to us — humans, that is — that Poe’s in-between period was short as a salamander.
Today, two cats are exactly where they belong.
Today, two families are complete.
Today, forgets and regrets have no purchase on Poe. Or Edgar Allan.
Or you and me.
Keep the faith, kittens. Your meant-to-bes are tougher than you fear. What is for you will not pass you by.
*Or a unicorn, for that matter. But that’s another story.