Good things often come back.
Cyndi Lauper. Neon. Princess phones. Bedazzlers.
But sometimes, good things come back when they should have stayed right where they were.
Boy Bands: in the 90s. Lunch: in your stomach. Cats: in their adoptive homes.
There’s one experience that’s bound to rebound on you whether you’re the Emperor of Bhutan or you live in your parents’ basement and wear your hair like Prince Valiant: Feeling alone. In our sane and sober moments, we know that feelings aren’t facts, and that the truth is that we are never, ever, ever truly alone. Even if we try our darndest and catapult ourselves into the darkest holes we can find, we cannot escape being known and loved and held. What we see is not all that is. We are never alone.
Sometimes I wonder if cats know this.
Kittens don’t — but, then, neither do we when we’re young or new or feeling our smallness. Separate a little catlet from his mom and siblings and he will screeeeeeeeeam with the anguish of 10,000 condemned souls. He does not yet know he is not alone. He will learn. Psychologists talk about self-soothing and having a strong “internal locus of control,” but I think — for cats, if not we mere humans — that it has more to do with recognizing that you’re already and always held. Beloved, even.
This spring’s retro cats are rediscovering their belovedness.
May 2013 appears to have a kind of feline reflux. For reasons ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, people are returning their feline adoptees to Tabby’s Place. We never resent a return — once a Tabby’s Place cat, always a Tabby’s Place cat — but we do ache for the cats in the crosshairs.
Dazzle was returned to Tabby’s Place after six-and-a-half years.
Six-and-a-half years. That’s a Ph.D. program. That’s high school and a half. That’s 134 episodes of Splash.
And these were no mere six-and-a-half years for the dazzling one. As you may recall, circa 2007, many cats suffered terribly during a massive cat food recall. The cats at Tabby’s Place were mercifully spared the toxins. Dazzle, alas, was not so lucky.
But the robust white cat with moon-grey splashes was not alone.
With veterinary care and miracles and time, Dazzle survived, ultimately unscathed by the assault. It would not, however, be her final crisis.
Another six years later, and Dazzle faced sudden surrender.
I confess the dots don’t quite connect for me in this story. People have their reasons for things, and it is not mine to judge. There was something about a move, a shift, a change in circumstances…and a sloughing-off of a cat who suddenly found herself non-essential to the home that had been hers for six-and-a-half years.
That’s even worse than 134 episodes of Splash.
But undaunted and unalone, Dazzle came back to Tabby’s Place, for which we thank her humans. Say what you may about returns, but it is an act of love to bring a Tabby’s Place cat back to Tabby’s Place when you could take the easier, less-embarrassing route and take them somewhere, anywhere else.
More miraculously yet, Daz has shown herself to still be dazzleable.
No grizzled veteran, Dazzle has rejected the understandable option of choosing a chip on her shoulder. On your very first visit, the cat who’s just been surrendered will lick your hand and chirp and chatter, rolling around with zest and zip and vim (who were, by the way, the three understudies for Snap, Crackle and Pop — but I digress). I could imagine giving up on letting life dazzle me after being let down so hard. Dazzle imagines no such thing. Life sparkles on.
And she just might be the inspiration another recent returnee needs.
Adopted one year ago, Marion and Yelena were part of our Olympic litter of kittens. Alas, this spring the girls were unceremoniously pole-vaulted back to Tabby’s Place. I don’t know the details. I do know the not-kittens-anymore sisters were afraid and puzzled. They seemed almost uncomfortable in their grown-up bodies, unsure what it would mean to be a non-kitten where they’d once been the cutest littlest smidgens.
But even non-kittens aren’t alone. You don’t have to be the cutest or littlest or best or sparkliest to be held.
Marion is already proving that in a new forever home. And Yelena…well, let’s just say her event is the marathon, not the 50-yard dash.
Yelena’s not doing cartwheels. She’s not Adam-level elated. But neither is she moping or griping or sniping or pining. Yelena is okay. She’s relearning the rhythm of letting herself be loved, and we’re letting her go at her own pace (much as, like goofy giddy kids, we’d love to press fast-forward and moosh every inch of her being right away.) An inch more each day, Yelena radiates the calm of a creature quite settled in her okayness. Her circumstances have swerved far from “ideal,” but she retains her peace. (She retains it under the cages in her room right now, ergo the dearth of Yelena photos.)
And you just know our girl will be giving peace a chance in a new home before long.
And for each of them, life gets less lonely with every choice to trust, and to open the door to the love that’s already knocking.