Tabby’s Place and sparrows and leopards and the color pink and pumpernickel and Pumpernickel (pictured at left) EXIST.
Also strawberries, and ice cream made thereof, and oboes, and sneakers that light up when you step down.
And someone figured out one day how to tie-dye things, and the world has been better ever since, and Yo-Yo Ma is still playing his cello, and Harry Connick, Jr. is still crooning about New Orleans, and why don’t we live with a great salty exuberance on every day that is still today?
Pardon me if I’m perhaps a tad more exuberant than even my batty baseline today, kittens.
It’s just that today is the fifth of July, in the year 2021, and we’re all here together — you, and me, and the cats, and the great throng of creatures seen and unseen.
The dance goes on.
The worst is and isn’t over, but the best is still yet to come.
Graycie has been adopted.
Joshua has arrived.
Hector is making a full recovery.
Stanley is snoring musically in the Lobby as I type these words.
We made it, kittens — not just through the most poisonous part of the pandemic, but through any number of things, all the accidents and indignities and expectation-smashers that hurtled us towards today.
You know yours; I know mine; the cats carry us through them all, while offering us the merciful illusion that we’re the ones doing the “rescuing.”
It is a terrifying and wondrous thing just to be alive, yet here we are.
We are on — I pray, I trust, I pray some more — the back end of something that we’ll spend the rest of our earthly lives trying to understand. It has been terrible. It has been shot through with grace, like a construction-paper sky pierced with holes for stars. It has taken relentlessly. It has also given us permission to be gentle with ourselves and each other in ways that we can keep, if we’re brave enough.
And if we’re brave enough to admit it, we might be a little scared of the end of the terrible thing.
Think about it. Pre-COVID, the question “How are you?” was expected to be answered “I’m fine” or “Me be good” or — if you hang around grammatical pedants — “I am well, and thyself?”
But during the defining event of our generation, it was well and fully OK to say, “I’m hanging in there.” “I’m okay.” “I cried into my oatmeal last night.” “I can’t stop buying fleece socks to make myself feel warmer.” “I don’t know how I’d get through a day of this without my cat.”
We were allowed to be tender and forgiving towards ourselves and other selves. We were allowed to falter without losing our dignity.
But, here’s the glorious, exuberant, strawberry-ice-cream secret shouting at us as the Great Badness ends and the After Time is slightly terrifying: we’re still allowed.
We can keep the gentleness. Towards ourselves. Towards each other. Towards the prickly glory that is life under these skies.
We can also keep the fleece socks.
Our masks may be increasingly off, but heaven and all the cats help us if we fall into putting old veils back on.
I don’t believe we have to.
I do believe we can have the best of both worlds. Tabby’s Place has been singing this song since before the first infection, and it will be gushing grace long after the last jab.
The cats know the majesty of gentleness. We feeble beings needed a global pandemic to give it a chance.
I love Tabby’s Place.
I love you.
I want to remember to remember how outrageously blessed we are, and keep passing it onward to the ones who don’t yet know. I want to look each other in the eye, smile from our bellies, and give the permanent heave-ho to the very uncatly hustle that once distanced us from each other more than any vile virus.
So let’s stay real and vulnerable.
Let’s get some cats adopted.
Let’s donate our very best, in the best sense of the word. (I may be the
Development Director Fundraising Lady in these here parts, but I’m not quite so dunderheaded as to think that money is the highest thing we can give.)
Let’s live so splendor-eyed that we save lives, feline and otherwise.
Let’s remember the mercy and the mirth and the sheer givenness of it all, even when the rivers of tears run crags down our cheeks, and the losses we thought we couldn’t bear come calling yet don’t kill us.
Let’s put our hands over our beating hearts, and remember we’re alive for a reason.
Then let’s be the reason for somebody else.
Do you ever think about how majestically lucky we are? Let’s do just that, today.
Pictured top to bottom: Mr. Thief & J’Happy, Pumpernickel, the Bad Bros again, Ciabatta, Brioche, Valerie, Lemon