Love sounds sweet and soft.
Love wears steel-toed boots.
Love is a marvelous, maddening thing.
cats humans life forms of any form for any length of time, and you’ll lose your illusions about love. Love is not easy. Love is not fragile. Love does not conquer all, not without traveling companions like grit and elbow grease and gigantic nerve and verve.
A timid, thin-crust love would fail a crusty old man like Scotty.
Spotted as a stray, orange and haggard, half-homely and homeless, Scotty was no picture-book picture of “lovable.” He was no baby kitten. He was no candidate for a calendar of Marvelous Marmalade Men. He was not even particularly affectionate, or snuggly, or anything that would make him “worthy” of a certain sort of “love.”
Things only got grittier when we got a better look at Scotty. His nose was not just scarred; it was housing a host of heebie jeebies, in the form of lymphoma. And that lousy cancer had opted for a two-bedroom suite, taking up residence in Scotty’s gastrointestinal tract, too.
Pragmatism would say, this is nobody’s cat.
This is no easy road to hoe.
This is the time for euthanasia.
Love, though, dug in its stubborn, sweaty, steely heels.
Love swashbuckles through lymphoma.
Love launches over an oatmeal-like personality.
Love sees the possible heartbreak, goes for it anyway, gives dollars and tears and devotion to a cat who deserves nothing, sees that “deserving” is a lie and grace is everything.
And so Scotty surveys the Lobby today, moseying about at his own speed. He’s the golden-orange heart of a Lobby full of stories and scars. He’s love on four legs. He’s getting courage and chemo and all the kisses he can stand, a slowly growing volume. What will unfold is anyone’s and no one’s guess. Love’s promise is presence, grace, the opposite of abandonment, always.
Love takes courage.
But courage comes in many colors. It’s easy to sentimentalize the courage of caring for a Scotty. “Ohhh yes, we are sooooo loving, we care for the sick. Just call us Mothers Teresa Incorporated, so swell are weeeeee!”
And then you meet Rebel and get your love languages all scrambled.
Rebel came to Tabby’s Place from a shelter. He was undeniably loved, irresistibly adored, a staff favorite…and a menace to society.
Rebel looks lovable, a massive Muppet of a creamsicle cat, the deep-dish pie in the Tabby’s Place pizzeria.
Rebel is lovable, all belly and bravado, more huggable than a huge hamster.
Rebel eats fear for breakfast.
Rebel is difficult. And dangerous. And the Great Cat Slayer Of Suite B.
It’s easy to love Rebel until Rebel rebels. But when you’re standing between a raging Rebel and a quivering, say, Goldeen, love can go from ten-ply to threadbare in a matter of seconds. How do you love Rebel’s victim without letting your love for Rebel go cold?
You grit your teeth. You see the soul behind the steam. You love. You administer Prozac.
You get your courage on.
Love takes all kinds of courage at Tabby’s Place, and we don’t all have every variety every day. Fortunately, we’re in this together. When my courage is crumbling, yours may fan into flame for a heartbreaking or heart-eating cat. When your courage falters, my love may leap up to champion the cad-cat or sit with the soul-shaker.
Love takes courage. Love with me.