“It will be seventy-five degrees and sunny every day, then rain softly all night. Everyone will be ensured a universal basic allowance of ravioli.”
This was my old friend Rick’s campaign promise.
Sunflower would not have voted for him.
She would have been anguished in that voting booth, committed as she is to pasta justice. But in the clutch, Sunflower simply could not pull the lever for a candidate committed to perfect weather.
Sunflower’s entire philosophy is Superbloom.
Like most mature individuals, Sunflower does not go about bellowing her viewpoint. While her neighbor Shaggy delivers his opinion with all the precision of spray cheese, and her sister Olivia speaks not a word even when asked, Sunflower is intentional in how she expresses herself.
But make no mistake: Sunflower is a blossom with beliefs. Chief among these is the necessity of fire and rain. (Sunflower realizes she is showing her age, but she also believes mature individuals of all ages should appreciate James Taylor.)
In the whether-or-nots of life outside, Sunflower was a stranger to “seventy-five and sunny.” Whether or not she was hungry, she had to persevere through the day. Whether or not she was weary, she had to seek shelter. Whether or not her nose was ablaze, she had to keep cool.
Oh yes, that burning nose.
Rain came in the kindness of a caretaker, a heart with a food tray. But no sooner had mercy dared to drizzle, than the drought regained its ground. Sunflower’s face was scorched with pain, the dainty blossom of her nose all crackled with cancer.
Into a dry and thirsty land came the sound of water. Sunflower’s gold petals did not go unseen. A great mercy touched her nose and her life with one drop.
In the drought, one drop is life.
Her hopeless situation flung open an umbrella, a crackling act of faith under brassy skies. A weepy, wonderful waterfall could be heard in the distance. One little gold cat’s drought had made the news at Tabby’s Place. Desperate circumstances were about to be doused in deliverance.
Sunflower came to Tabby’s Place, where there’s not a dry eye in the house.
There was, however, still a charred nose, and a cat unaccustomed to weepy warm people.
No matter: whether or not she would ever let us hold her, Sunflower was safe. We would weather the cancer together. She might always say “no, thank you” (ever polite, ever elegant) to our touch. She might soften into a Squishmallow. We would love her with the same gale force regardless.
We promised Sunflower that we would define “bloom” in as many ways as a cat can make peace.
We had no rules, only soft rain.
We had no wheelbarrow of expectations.
We had no idea that Sunflower intended a Superbloom.
Cancer was a constant, attacking and retreating and forcing us to keep our watering cans in hand. Treatments had to be gentle for the good girl with the brittle nose and the soft heart. The drought had been long and bitter. This needed to be a time of only the softest rains.
In the American Southwest, stubborn plants laugh at dryness. Born for silent skies, hooligan grasses are as tough as feral cats. But drought writes new rules. Drought can kill. Drought can ruin everything.
If my friend Rick, and most of us, had our way, drought would be banished, and rain quarantined to convenience. Fortunately, forces as wise as Sunflower have won the election.
Drought in the desert hushes the hooligan grasses. At first, it appears that despair has dominion in a loveless landscape.
But when the rains come at last, shy as feral cats, the world is new.
Freed from the common grasses, secret flowers surge. The distant song of water charms them forth, and the desert blooms like Eden. Color laughs across the weary land. Life lets out the secret that death is a dotard.
They call this a superbloom.
Drought chuckles and admits: “well played, life. Well played.”
And in Suite E at a New Jersey cat sanctuary, desperate circumstances soften to something sweeter than 75-degrees-and-sun.
A cat charred by cancer becomes the queen of flowers. Mullet and McGregor, Olivia and Porkroll — they all want to bask in the Sunflower. Mullet squishes his circus-peanut body into a living shield when it’s time for Sunflower’s medications. Porkroll melts into Sunflower’s side like a fro-yo in the desert.
A crown of petals orbit the one once forgotten. A garden of grace grows every day she lives.
And she lives, and lives, and lives, on through the questions and the weather and the whethers.
And we live, and live, and live, in the light of the sun and the mercy of the moon and the bloom of the cats who can’t imagine how often they save us.
When the ground beneath our feet and the noses on our faces crack, may we look up.
Our superbloom has been scheduled.
There is something greater here than perfect weather.