In times of sadness, we search for sweetness.
Good to know that sweetness is always searching for us, too.
Under the current circumstances, Tabby’s Place has suspended all “discretionary intake.” That’s an elegant way of saying “we no takey more kitties ’til things be gooder…except for emergencies.”
What constitutes an emergency when we’re all living under a state of emergency? Very few things:
- Cats adopted from Tabby’s Place who need to be returned, for whatever reason (once a Tabby’s Place cat, always a Tabby’s Place cat)
- Cats from our TNR colonies who turn up ill or injured
- Splenda the kitten.
In a class of her one, nano-tabby Splenda showed up in the arms of a Good Samaritan early this week. Emaciated, anemic, and boasting blood values that were not compatible with life, she was nevertheless splendid beyond all description, a heartbeat wrapped in messy fur.
When we first met Splenda, she was a living, gulping appetite. But just a few bites into her fish mush, desperation yielded to a sweetness that was anything but artificial.
She was a thousand pounds of pure affection, all in a handful of hamster-sized crisis.
She was a galaxy of untarnished goodness, trapped in a body battling to survive.
She was the epitome of Tabby’s Place in microscopic form.
We only knew Splenda for three days — and some of us (e.g. your author) only knew her from afar — but the force of her life jolted us all like a holy fireball. For three days, by text and call and nail-biting prayer, we waited and worried and marveled at this tiny being. In the midst of a global crisis unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, our hopes laser-focused on one kitten.
Splenda made swift work of stealing hearts at the emergency vet’s office. Ten trillion tons of sucralose couldn’t sweeten a day the way this little dewdrop did, loving and purring and making mighty muffins with Skittle-sized feet. Splenda was determined to live all of her days, wholly here even as she fought a war against time, against anatomy, against the horrifying hole in her heart that couldn’t be endured.
I could write paragraphs about how the emergency vets and Tabby’s Place did everything in our feeble human power to save Splenda. If sweetness and soul-strength and the mystery of love could have stitched her heart back together, she would be gaining weight and chasing jingle balls today.
But we don’t always get the victory we want.
This morning, it was gapingly clear that the most loving thing we could do was to gently let Splenda go. And so, forgetting other crises, forgetting the state of the world, forgetting anything but a small beacon of sacred sweetness, together we wept across text and distance and sighs too great for words.
It wasn’t fair.
None of this is fair.
But we’re still grateful she was ours.
We’re still grateful for the life that aches and sighs and fights tooth and nail.
We’re still better for the fairy tale that gets lopped short just when it’s begun.
We’re still changed for the sweeter by the answer we didn’t want.
We wanted Splenda to live forever — or at least to a ripe old age, full of years and full of fish mush and properly pampered in a forever home. The answer to our longing wasn’t “no” so much as “not yet.”
Splenda, you see, lives on.
She lives in the sweetness we never knew before.
She lives in the strength our eyes had never imagined.
She lives in the grace she gave us to go on another hour, another day, another uncertain step in front of the other.
And she lives — I believe it to the depths of my soul — in the place beyond the reach of tears and death. We will join her there, fully alive beyond anything our wee little minds can imagine now. Life will be all in all, and sweetness will reign.
Until that day, we ache, but not as those without hope.
Until we meet again, sweet baby girl.