There are certain phrases that have been, shall we say, loved to death in recent years.
“On the margins.”
My failed ballet career proved that I am incapable of standing on point(e). I actually prefer the apples closest to the sky. And if existential crises are as common as they would seem, every cat, kindergartner and senator in a snit is apparently plumbing the depth and direction of their soul.
But then there’s “on the margins.”
Truth be told, I have tremendous affection for that one. Like any good bleeding-heart, I ache for the people/cats/mongeese “on the margins.”
The ones on the edges of our societies and streets and sensibilities.
The ones who never taste center-stage attention and affection.
The ones asked to endure the most, with the least.
The ones most vulnerable to everything from COVID-19 to a genuine existential crisis.
You might say that Tabby’s Place exists explicitly for the marginal meanderers. We scour the landscape to find the very old, the very young, the very strange, the very fragile. It doesn’t take long to see that no great search is necessary: the hidden ones are ever in front of our eyes. The margins are bunk. The margins are a myth. The margins are only the horizons of our hearts, and we can bust them open anytime we choose.
What has been seen cannot be unseen…or unloved.
So we’re stuck on the margins, hopelessly devoted to the hope-full ones leading quietly heroic lives at the extremes. We have been changed by who we’ve loved and how we’ve been loved back — infinitely more — and now we pirouette on the edges that have claimed our main-stage mercies.
Recent little earthquakes at Tabby’s Place have brought this (back) to the forefront of my heart.
In this mad, quiet, crazy-making time of “suspended discretionary intake,” there are generally no cats coming into Tabby’s Place. So, on the rare occasion when a cat or five arrives, it is nothing short of a cataclysm.
All over again, just like in them olden days pre-COVID-19, our hearts and hands leap into gear; more often than not, our hearts leap into our throats and our mouths and minds fill with prayers and good thoughts, as such earthquakes are born of emergencies.
There are the very young: the quintet of kittens arriving at the age of approximately one instant, helpless and hopeless and marginal at best until our vet team worked wonders of love. If you are not slain by the cuteness pictured here, I regret to inform you that you are apparently a member of the undead.
There are the very old: Mitzi, 4.5 pounds of angelic elderly wonder, one of those messengers sent to us from somewhere far better and sweeter than our eyes or ears or minds can imagine. Mitzi needed our immediate intervention — hydration, warmth, care for untreated diabetes, food glorious food — but who’s to say that we didn’t need Mitzi? (No one. No one is to say that. Because we did.)
It was Mitzi’s photo, sent by text message — the only way I get to see and melt for Tabby’s Place faces these days — that threw me straight into the sea of gratitude where we should all live, all the time. Here was an unwanted, unkempt, unseen-by-the-masses cat who would now be loved to the limits of life this side of heaven. Whether her days should be long or short — and as of this writing, we still don’t know — they would be a glimpse of the transcendent hope that keeps us all going, and dreaming, and making the margins the place of miracles.
And that brings me to the final tiny earthquake, the cataclysm that continues to shake me (but like a great dance or a smoothie, not like…well, an earthquake).
You are the earthquake.
Yes, you. Sitting there in your holey New Kids on the Block sweatshirt from 1989, and your overgrown quarantine hair, and your existential issues. You — youze guyze collectively — have, in the past fiveish days, taken our breath away…and put the wild, untamed wind back in our sails.
Your response to Jonathan’s video email was anything but marginal.
I confess to you today that we sent that email with fear and trembling. We’re allergic to “scare tactics,” heart-smashers, anything that reeks of manipulation. We will never, ever tell you “if you don’t donate THE CATS WILL BE DEPRIVED OF FISH MUSH AND INSULIN!” Tabby’s Place is not “in trouble,” and we didn’t want to indicate otherwise.
But we were/are scared.
These are terrifying times for every nonprofit.
Let’s be real: when it comes to household expenses, “charitable contributions” are marginal at best.
So we reached out. We spoke. We got Jonathan to speak on camera. (This alone tops all the labors of Hercules.)
And you…you quaked our earth and put the ground back beneath our feet by the force of your love.
In short: oh my goodness.
You showed up, kittens.
And as of this post, you keep showing up.
Donation upon donation upon donation.
I can neither confirm nor deny that your kindness has made me cry.
We are not out of the woods (another one of those phrases: hello, some of us prefer being in the woods a good chunk of the time). But we are vibrantly alive, and life looks a lot more lively with you in it.
You love the cats.
You really love the cats!
We know, but good heavens did you remind us.
And we — from the minis to the Mitzis — love you.
We thank God for you.
That goes double for me.
And you’ve reminded us that the margins — feline, human, existential and otherwise — can fold in and wrap us all up in one humongous hug.
From every edge, cranny and corner, you came flooding in with love and generosity. From the furthest reaches, you embraced us. You’re the reason we can keep embracing the Mitzis and the many, many miracles who have yet to arrive.
Please don’t stop. They will keep arriving; we will keep loving.
May mercy grow.
You have our hearts, and our thanks, forever.
Onward, together, forever.