Precious mettle

Precious mettle

Magicians keep secrets, but cats spill light.

Magicians bend metal, but cats bend time and space.

One Copperfield can escape a locked box, but one Copperfield can free prisoners.

She was a “friendly stray” with a burgeoning belly. It was no optical illusion. The little black cat was profoundly pregnant. A few sleights of hand later, and Copperfield was Tabby’s Place’s newest mother-to-be.

But it was not to be.

Copperfield was amused and delighted by her name, for she came with no tricks. Copperfield was amused and delighted in all directions, for she was born with a clinical inability to hide her cards. She loved all the people. She loved all the hours. She loved telling us that she loved us. She was one titanium “tell” from tip to tail.

She dabbled in jingle balls, and she dabbled in head-bonks, and she dabbled in feasts both fancy and pedestrian. She was an expert witness in exuberance, with no desire to be an authority on anything.

Dour-faced wizards would call her a dilettante. Copperfield fielded so many favorite things, she could only ever be an amateur. When a cat juggles eighty joys, she is sure to drop them all repeatedly, and then pick up eighty more. She was interested in everyone and everything, every hour.

She was breathless breadth, not doughty depth. She remembered that “dilettante” comes from the word “delight.” She spilled light in all directions. She would rather love everything too much than live little.

Her big belly would almost deny her the chance.

Drew was the first to notice. As Copperfield’s foster mom, she had a front-row seat to the superstar’s show. As a magician of mercy, Drew is a magnet for need, even when it whispers. The little cat’s pregnancy was not progressing properly. Drew’s instincts were much stronger than magic.

Copperfield had mastitis, and her life was in imminent danger.

The joyous cat had become pregnant too young and too small, and now her own mammary glands were swelling uncontrollably. A painful, lengthy surgery would be her scant hope of survival. If she made it at all, weeks of delicate recovery would follow.

Copperfield more than made it. No magic was required.

Ten thousand rabbits from a single hat would not be so stunning as Copperfield’s trick. (But if they should become available, Baby would like the record to show that he would personally adopt all ten thousand. “Adopt.”) On the far side of excruciating surgery, Copperfield exulted.

She had scarcely begun to love life. Once merely radiant, she became rowdy. She graduated from garden-variety giddiness to glow-in-the-dark glee. She shouted the good news into every cave: the world is full of light, and liquefied poultry, and long human fingers that will skritch your forehead until you forget your name.

She declared her major in eighty-six areas (ranging from Lap Thermodynamics to International Liverwurst). She declared this life magical. She declared herself a dilettante and delighted in all directions.

Gold is a precious metal, but copper blushes like a rose.

Silver is a precious metal, but copper can conduct heat.

Many metals hang limp on necks and wrists, but Copperfield’s mettle gave birth.

She may never have kittens, or we just might be her kittens. If we’re brave enough to believe, a lover of life stands ready to raise us past mere magic. There will be pain. There will be years that nearly cut us in two. We will not feel like lovely assistants.

We will not be lost, as long as there’s light enough to dabble.

PS: We will not be lost. However, we have lost the luxury of personally getting to kiss Copperfield upon the forehead daily. That’s right: our precious metal has just been adopted.

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