The lovers

The lovers

I want to tell you about the lovers.

I do not mean the cats, although they love without calculation.

Tim the Toolman, chez Bree

I want to tell you about the lovers who will never tell you about themselves.

Now you understand why I do not mean the cats. For all their buoyant and expansive love, they are strangers to modesty. Prescott is an Olympian of the unconditional, and she would like to be recognized with thirty bouquets of herring. Derby is a pinwheel on legs, and he would like to be lauded with kisses and chicken fingers.

Not so the humble lovers.

They are unaware that I am writing about them today, but that’s only because their attention is all fixed on the faces in front of them. While cats and Development Directors sling poetry and drama, the lovers save the world in the literal hour, non-fiction mercy with no fanfare.

Millie Chez Jae

They braid their hours into the wiry hair of an ancient cat, and embrace the entanglement.

They cannot say “goodnight” to a fading Millie. They will not bid Tim the Toolman “best wishes” at the end of the day.* Even if they should turn her sky-sized hearts upside down and shake it vigorously, Oma would not fall out. They feed Harley the hearty barley soup of unconditional love.

They pave highways for surly paraplegics. The off-ramps lead to couches and consolation and hours of unsung tenderness. The surly may churn like fanged waves. The lovers burn like the world’s first and last hearth.

They allow themselves to be captured by kittens whose survival is a dandelion puff. The lovers’ hearts are steel. The lovers’ strength is the sun that makes Tabby’s Place a habitable planet.

Oma Chez Karina

They have veterinary know-how, but they know more than is usually granted to earth’s creatures. They upend their lives for orange hooligans who will not eat, or anemic tabbies who will not grow.

They give more than the cautious and careful will ever own. They empty themselves to exhaustion, salted with sorrow that leaves a scar. They work all day and go home to labors that are gnawing and new.

They foster and fluoresce. They live for the dying. They make holy work of hospice.

They do not need to do this. No job description at Tabby’s Place includes fostering as a requirement. The lovers live not from duty but from overflow. They are volcanoes of mercy, unable to contain their compassion.

And unable to conceal it.

Harley Chez Drew

The lovers’ whiskers twitch if you tell them they are heroes. They look away, return to their breakneck work. They are too busy being love to look in the mirror.

They are too busy being mercy to be careful. Cool headed calculators would count the cost, spit out the spreadsheets, read the research on how many breaks a heart can bear per annum.

No lover owns an abacus.

Kittens will die. Hospice foster is a choice to be eviscerated. Loss sears every lover, but when you’ve held a cat not only in your arms but in your home, death’s teeth are too sharp to bear.

I don’t know how they bear it.

Fantasia Chez Dr. C

Yet they do, arms emptied again, and they do, and they do, and they do.

The lovers can’t say “no” to life’s last whisper.

The lovers can’t say “goodnight” to a cat whose dawns are dwindling.

The lovers can’t be anything other than love. This world is not worthy of them. The cats are worthy of them. Death is no match for them.

The lovers are life at its truest. They are my heroes and my hope.

*I’m heartbroken to share that Tim and Oma both gently left this earth just days ago, enfolded in the love that reaches beyond a lifetime. Thank you, Bree and Karina, for shepherding them all the way. Thank you, and Jae and Carolyn and Dr. C and Drew and Carrie and Danielle and Denise and Jess and all our selfless foster angels, for being my beloved heroes.

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