…continued from last week.
I told myself I would be OK with whatever condition Bucca‘s condition was in. I knew she was healthy and safe and receiving abundant love; I knew it was possible she would either not remember me, or remember in anger, or remember and not particularly care. (“Oh. You, woman. Yep. Hey.”) It could be anything from “love stinks” to “the mother and child reunion.” I knew all that.
I knew, too, that I would cry.
So I gathered up all the pieces of myself already strewn on the floor, and, arms and heart and tear ducts full, forged onward into the 90-square-foot space I knew so well.
She looked at me. Those VanGogh-painting eyes swirled with unusual intensity, even for a cat so naturally intense she scares DeNiro. A tiny meow (“Hey…”). A fast spin away, followed by a hiss at roomie Ronnie just for good measure. A glance over the skinny shoulder…and then…
My words won’t do justice to the next half hour, brushing and laughing and crying and lapping up lap time. Remnants of the not-too-distant past worked themselves into a cozy three-layer quilt that wrapped around us, a reminder that everything would be OK, that everything was already OK, that four months wasn’t long enough to unravel a bond that broke time anyway. (How long have I loved Bucca and been her mother? Four years, more precisely four thousand eternal ages.)
It was overwhelming.
It was exhilarating.
And, by the grace of God, Bucca ultimately got bored, bit me, and shuffled off peacefully to her window perch. She didn’t force me to “leave her” again. She assured me she was doing just fine.
I could write another thousand words about how emotional it was simply to be back in the building that has held me like a mother for thirteen years. Pages would not suffice to share how I realized, as if for the first time, what a pulsing miracle Tabby’s Place is, what uncommon human beings surround(ed) me every day, what kindness whispers from every wall and ceiling tile and now-masked smile.
Somehow this was all clearer than ever in Tabby’s Place’s current limbo state, everything silent and safe and sterile. Even my ridiculous desk, usually covered with ridiculous toys (everyone from Captain Jean-Luc Picard to two different popes to several unicorns, Eiffel Towers and an inexplicable orange dinosaur are represented), had been swept clean, the only remaining items being Bucca’s bed and a vat of hand sanitizer. Someone — one of my beloved someones — had lovingly packed all my bald guys and beasties into a small box, tucked into my file cabinet, right beside all the pre-COVID Cherry Zero. (Alert the Nobel committee: no one drank my Cherry Zero, not even the experimental Vanilla Cherry Zero. The latter sounds great but is actually an abomination, but I digress.)
Everything was different, fragmented.
Except that everything was the same in terms of love, which are the only terms that matter.
I left all weepy and splendor-eyed, confident of at least two things:
(1) The kids — most importantly my cranky 19-year-old kid — are all right.
(2) Tabby’s Place will rise again.
Actually, that’s not quite right. Tabby’s Place never fell in the first place. Tabby’s Place — human and feline and earthy and mystical — will emerge from this haze stronger and sweeter and tighter and truer. The bonds we share with each other and with you are far tougher than we realized. We are “all in” with each other, all of us, in ways we couldn’t have known if it weren’t demanded of us.
We may each be a fragile remnant rippling in the wind, but we make for the most comforting quilt you’ve ever cuddled.
So nestle in close, kittens. You are part of this, part of us. Feel yourself enfolded in the great wide quilt of kindness that will never fray. And find your own remnants enfolded in a love that will never let you go.