Blessed are the meek. In fact, they shall inherit the earth.
Gentleness is victory. Tenderness is triumph. We’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating, as we goofus humans can forget.
Cats, though — cats don’t forget. Especially not cats like Zach.
It’s generally no surprise which cats get the razzle-dazzle. Big personalities, like Meatball or Felix, will always attract avalanches of emotion when they leave us. There’s not a dry eye in the northeast corridor when such towering souls depart, and there’s standing room only in their suites as sweeping hordes of staff and volunteers say goodbyes.
But then there are the little feet, quiet and conventionally considered unseen, who meekly inherit a world of love.
I confess it caught me off guard how many people personally made a soul-seal with Zach. A longtime fixture of Suite A, small in stature and gentle to a fault, the little orange cat was never the most-photographed, the most-mirthful. He was a far cry from his antic-outrageous, scene-stealing neighbors, a la Adam and Rose.
But alarm bells blared from one end of New Jersey to the other when the news broke that Zach was breaking down. No stranger to suffering — this, after all, was the cat who’d humbly borne a heart-monitoring harness, and years of gastrointestinal grief — Zach’s pain was finally too great to bear. The most loving thing we could do was to gently let him go.
As we grieve, I can’t let go of a sense of awe at the outpouring of love this little cat received.
We were shoulder-to-shoulder in that hospital, as cries of love — each painstakingly personalized — rang out all across the room. One volunteer sang a song she’d always shared with Zach, one that stilled his deepest places. Another crooned “My little Zach-attack! We love you my baby!” with grief and the sort of unsinkable spirit that knew they’d meet again. Hugs were abundant. Tears were a tsunami.
Even those who couldn’t personally attend this farewell were there, in spirit and song and words of wonderstruck love. The following graced my inbox from beloved volunteer Florie:
“From the moment I met Zach, in my heart I knew he was my spirit animal.
“Both staff and volunteers understand that phenomenon we all experience when a certain kitty simply captures your heart upon first meeting, and we all inevitably have our favorites for countless reasons. Zach was one of those favorites for me from the very beginning, and he quickly became my comfort buddy, before I even officially became his.
“Zach was a peaceful soul who was, as Angela phrased it in a recent blog, all the way on the ‘I’ side of the introvert/extrovert axis of the Myers-Briggs test. He always preferred the quieter spots in the room, but once we bonded and he trusted me, he would follow me around Suite A, uttering tiny ‘meeps’ to ask for more attention.
“Zach was my biggest comfort when I lost my orange-and-white male kitty earlier this year, just short of his 21st birthday, and not just because they looked alike. Mostly, it was because Zach just knew. I’m guessing that most anyone reading this will understand what I mean when I say this. He caught my eye that first day I came to Tabby’s Place after my beloved pet crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and his snuggles gave me comfort I cannot explain.
“Zach was a special boy, and he will be missed by all of us who loved him dearly.”
There’s no accounting for how this quiet champion stole so many hearts, but the logic of love can keep its sacred secrets. What we keep close, in these days of hope and waiting, is the truth that we were touched by greatness. The love we shared with Zach will never let us go, and our eyes and songs will meet again.
And this weary world, if it will be inherited by the likes of Zach, just might rejoice yet.