Sometimes in this world, Very Bad Things happen.
Humans seem to have two strong reactions. Cats, however, have only one.
In the face of Very Bad Things (typhoons, losses, Robin Thicke songs), some of our species go bitter.
Fists trembling in the air, these battered souls declare that all is lost. You will know these angry achers by the chips on their shoulders, sharpened to spikes that will drive away any bluebird of happiness who might otherwise land.
Very Bad Things can make us jagged and hard and sad and cold.
In the face of those same Very Bad Things, other of our species go sweeter. Their sorrow is just as deep, their rage just as real. But somewhere, by some grace beyond themselves, these souls grasp that the only way out is through…and that there is something on the other side. They forgive. They soften. You will know these hurt, healed holy people by the depth of their joy.
You’ll also know them by the way they remind you of cats.
In the face of Very Bad Things, healing is the way of felines. The only way.
Exhibit A: Tanzanite — Tanzy to her friends.*
Tabby’s Place has only missed twenty hours or so of Tanzy’s life. She’d lived outside the womb less than a day when the Very Bad Thing happened. We weren’t there when it happened. We couldn’t prevent it from happening. We only know that it happened…and it changed everything, for better and worse.
Judging from the puncture wounds on Tanzy’s side, the Very Bad Thing involved a very large beast with very sharp teeth. In the early hours after Tanzy’s birth, that beast had taken and shaken her, then left her for the vermin of the wild to assail. And they did — ew they did — leaving her riddled with little nasties in those sharp, shredded wounds.
Nasties are no match for Tabby’s Place, however,** and so our vet team flushed them out. With her wounds cleaned and ten thousand kisses administered, tiny Tanzy had a shot at survival now. A spectacular grant from the spectacular Paws and Claws Society, Inc. had enabled us to rescue the little jewel, and love would continue to follow her like a bright shadow. Gerbil-sized and the exact color of a toasted marshmallow, Tanzy already squirmed and squiggled with oversized life.
As the days toddled on and Tanzy’s surface wounds healed, three things became apparent:
1) Tanzy was not a whitish-cream-colored cat, but a micro-Siamese (Siamini?); and,
2) Tanzy’s back legs didn’t do what back legs generally do.
She looked like an infant Maxine, but Tanzy’s one-of-a-kind dance was more like that of a baby seal. Although her front legs were as strong as her screaming soprano meow, her hind legs dragged loosely behind her, only making the occasional erratic movement. The Very Bad Thing had left her paraplegic.
That’s what we said, anyway. But people say a lot of things.
Tanzy said, simply, Bad thing? What Very Bad Thing? I LOVE YOU, LIFE, AND YOU WILL LOVE ME BACK! Or something like that. (It is difficult to translate “MAOOOOOOWWWW!” But it is clearly triumphant, a rebel yell that Billy Idol would applaud.)
Even as we dotty humans wrung our hands and threw our hearts around like characters in a telenovela, Tanzy showed no signs of mourning for the “normal” life she’d never know. Whether fighting her patient-as-Job foster mama Karina during physical therapy; springing after other kittens; or purring the entire sanctuary into the rhythm of life, Tanzy was and is victorious.
Hope-addicts though we may be, we’re not in denial. We know that Tanzy’s flourishing will demand all the love that we can give. Like the gem for which she’s named, our rare Tanzanite bears the marks of having been buffeted in the fiery furnace. She’s just seven weeks old, so the path ahead is misted with low clouds and questions.
But the truth sets us free: Tanzy has chosen life, wrestling it into an embrace that won’t let go until it blesses her, over and over and over again. Somehow, we get to play some small, doddering part in that.
And somehow, the healing overtakes us all. Step into the miracle yet unfolding — this one is for all of us.
*Over 4,000 strong on Facebook alone. She won’t be satisfied until she surpasses One Direction.
**I confess a complete lack of empathy for maggots, which is what the nasties were. If someone out there would like to start Revolto’s Place: a Maggot Sanctuary, be my guest, but in the meantime we’ll keep blasting them out of kittens with no mercy.