At Tabby’s Place today, we were discussing matters of an actuarial nature.
This is as exciting as it sounds. Actuarial questions include, “How long can a cat with Disease Z be estimated to survive?” and “What are the projected expenses for the duration of Average Cat X’s life?” Actuarial angst ultimately boils down to, “How can we know and plan and hedge every bet and square every circle?”
Spoiler alert: we can’t.
We were trying to plan, to be prudent, to take some sort of long view with our heads while tightly closing the jars on our hearts.
We realized, over wrung hands and drained coffees, what we already knew: love can’t hold onto any plan too tightly.
To love is to hurtle into mystery. Sometimes you’ll arc through the clouds. Sometimes you’ll slam into a window you could have sworn was open sky.
But always, you will risk. And always, it will be worth it.
Earlier this week, we took in a little black-and-white cat named Dior. A Pepita lookalike, Dior was gentle and luminous and so very weak.
Then weaker. Then in crisis.
No worries, we said. Crises fall before our mighty healing love, we cried, pointing fingers in the air. Paging Dr. Fantastic!
“Dr. Fantastic,” you may recall, is this blog’s composite term for the many specialists who treat our cats. This particular doctor is perhaps our favorite of the fantastics, a neurologist who can be trusted with every brain in the land. If a cat can be saved, Dr. Fantastic is the man with the master plan.
Today, Dr. Fantastic was the man with the bad news.
He was concerned that Dior had rabies. And, in any cases, it was clear that the brian stem was involved and her symptoms were progressing. There was no ope of recovery.
Tears flowing and tires screaming, Denise flew Dior back to Tabby’s Place, where we all surrounded the little cat in our quarantine area. Sleepy-eyed and weary-voiced, Dior looked around and spoke to everyone in the room. “Aaaow. Owww. Owwwww.”
“Time for you to run again,” Denise murmured, giving Dior the only medicine we had left for her. The weary tuxedo breathed her last, and together we cried.
What makes a group of people weep together for a cat they’ve not really known? By any standards, Dior was a stranger to us. Most of us had never even held her, much less gotten to know the quirks and qualities that made her Dior.
But, again, love does not obey any standards.
We have no answers or guarantees or umbrella policies against sorrow. We can’t hedge our bets without raising our walls so high that we shut grace right out.
We can only choose, every day, whether we will risk and love and shred down our own defenses all over again.
Is it still a worthy cause, this dangerous love that never shares its secrets?
It is the only cause worth our lives.
Dior, we will love you longer than we knew you. And, in the fullness of time, further along we will meet again. Roam beyond the mystery, little star.