I’m retiring a sentence-starter today.
I will hereby no longer start paragraphs and puddles of words with, “Every cat is wonderful/special/incandescent etc., but then there are some…”
It’s become clear that they are all The Some. Every cat is a standout. Every cat is The One That Gets Through. Fortunately for our feeble human hearts, not every one is The One That Gets Through to every individual one of us. We couldn’t handle that much love, emotion, affection and dearness.
But every cat is That One to someone.
And then there are some who are The One to all.
Grace elicited gasps from the moment she landed at Tabby’s Place. Tiny and tortoise-shelled, in a pastel palette; delicate and dainty; fragile and fashioned from stardust and love; this elderly angel was instantly recognized as one of the Great Ones.
Perhaps the most aptly-named cat in feline history, Grace came by her greatness the hard way. Together with another elderly cat, she was abandoned outdoors, in a carrier. There they remained for two weeks. We shall decline here to offer comments and/or cuss words regarding her owners, people we will never know, with a story we will never be asked to live.
We shall, however, comment copiously on Grace’s saviors.
Once Grace, full of years, made it to a shelter, she was scooped up by a most exceptional couple. Despite their own advanced age, they warmly embraced the old, pastel cat — and her companion — into their hearts and home. Grace’s life glistened with love.
That love would soon be tested. Subtle neurological signs yielded to weak back legs and progressive unsteadiness. Grace began to fail in mysterious ways, losing control over her bowels and urine. Undaunted, Grace’s parents pressed on in every direction that might offer healing. Multiple Manhattan specialists could find no answer for Grace’s ills; acupuncture brought no relief.
Aware of their own age and limitations, Grace’s parents ached and agonized. They did not want to part with their pastel pearl. But, much more, they did not want to get to the point where they couldn’t do what was best for Grace. And so, with tears and exquisite generosity, they made plans for Grace to come to Tabby’s Place through the Exceptional Circumstances Program.
There was great grief and great joy on the day Grace arrived. Even as her parents’ hearts were breaking, they tasted the peace of knowing their girl had found her final haven. Having loved her from the moment they met her, they loved her to the utmost, letting go without lessening their devotion.
Grace went from belovedness to belovedness that day, instantly acquiring all of our hearts at Tabby’s Place. With her splendorous gaze, she seemed perpetually amazed: “There’s love, here too? It grows? There’s still more joy to be tasted…by me?” Soft to the touch and sweet to her marrow, Grace was a treasured Tabby’s Place cat from those first moments.
Would that those moments could have lasted a little longer.
We’d hoped to take Grace to a world-class-wonderful veterinary neurologist. Those hopes were not realized. A routine, pre-consult set of X-rays revealed a very large mass in Grace’s chest.
We hoped it would be “just” lymphoma, one of the less-cruel cat cancers. We hoped we could keep Grace comfortable for a good long time with chemotherapy. Our hopes dissolved into a different diagnosis: a thymoma, or tumor associated with the thymus gland. The only possible treatment would be open-chest surgery. It would be an insult to hope and grace to put this gentle old girl through such a trauma.
And so we hoped for days of grace, be they many or few.
Our hopes were fulfilled.
Grace may have been given just over a week in the Tabby’s Place lobby. But while her days lacked in length, they were lavished with wonder. As the pastel cat persevered through her new environment, wobbling and bobbling and marveling at all she saw, she was rarely alone, rarely not being stroked and cooed over and adored.
Days of grace indeed.
May 2nd would be the last day Grace wandered and wobbled this world. A relentless swelling in her left elbow would not respond to any soothing measures, and our sweetest senior was weary. Wrapped in tears and love, prayed across the veil as she departed, Grace’s days with us gave way to days without end.
Time is no measure of love, and Grace left us with permanent marks and miracles. Until we meet again, marvelous girl, thank you for the grace that abounds.