Your name is more than something the deli guy yells when your sliced slaw is ready.
It’s a certain signal to your essence. This is never truer than when it changes.
And it’s never, ever truer than when you’re a cat.
No, today let’s pause to consider what happens when a name no longer fits a larger, more luminous life.
Many, many, many moons ago, a very, very, very old dude named Abram received a very, very, very trustworthy promise: despite being so very, very, very old (we’re talking well north of John McCain territory), Abram would be a new dad with many, many, many descendants.
This was equally astounding news for Abram’s very, very, very old love, Sarai. As astounding news often does, such a promise made Sarai laugh — probably in that crinkly-beautiful, belly-deep way of old women.
Abram gazed skyward. Sarai guffawed. The promise stood.
And the golden seal on that promise? A new name for each of our oldsters. Abram became “Abraham,” meaning “father of a multitude.” Sarai became “Sarah,” meaning “princess.”
And wouldn’t you bet that promise came true?
A few thousand years later and a few thousand miles over, another very, very, very old character was about to get a promise of her own.
Tortoiseshell matron Fiona had lived many lives by the time spring found her this year. She’d been young, once, though nobody at Tabby’s Place could quite remember that. She’d been adopted then, too, and loved straight through a diabetes diagnosis.
And then she’d suffered the kind of loss that rushes the dial forward, piling on the years. Fiona’s human became so ill that the two could no longer stay together.
But another adoption? Another family? That kind of promise would be preposterous, too much, too laughable.
To men and women, at least.
Cats and God? Now that’s another story. You guessed it: the promise came true.
With her too-good-to-be-earthly promise made, Fiona had just one last gift awaiting her: a new, true name.
At this point, I hand things over to God’s hand-picked promise deliverer in this tale, Fiona’s AwesomeAdopter:
“Fiona is doing wonderfully! I did have to rename because — long story — I have a bad past connotation with the name ‘Fiona.’ So she is now Gretel.
“Gretel likes to look out the window to feel the breeze, and she sits with me on the desk when I am on the computer. Whenever she hears me coming up the steps, she sits at the baby gate and waits for me to come in and give her kisses.
“Gretel is an absolute dear. She has adjusted well to her new siblings and has settled into a nice routine. She comes to greet me every morning when I wake up, and when I come home from work, she is waiting for me. She likes to hang upstairs with Willow (my 14-year-old, blind black cat). They have a similar sweet, quiet temperament and like to confuse me by rotating cat beds, making me check all the beds to see which ones they are occupying.
“Gretel will come down when I am home and has claimed her own spot on the couch. She climbs on my lap and headbutts me until I give her kisses on her forehead (that is what the tan spot on her forehead is for).
“I took her to the vet to get her established there, and it went very well. We drew baseline bloodwork, and everything came back within normal limits! She even gained 1/4 lb.
“Last week I got the Myrtle’s ashes (Myrtle was the foster I had prior to getting Gretel). When she died so suddenly, I felt there had to be a reason. Included with her ashes was a sweet poem which said:
I ask that you not grieve for the loss, but rejoice in the fact that we lived, loved and touched each other’s lives.
Don’t hold the love that you have within yourself.
Give it to another like me — then I will live forever.
“Now I know the reason. Welcome to my heart, Gretel.”
Love and promises and new names have their reasons.
Oh, and one more detail about that particular AwesomeAdopter. Remember Levi? She was his mom. That makes Fiona — Gretel — her new child of promise.
Long may the laugh of disbelief lilt into the psalm of promise.
Photo credits from de top: Jess B, AT, Gretel’s AwesomeAdopter x4.