Recently, we acknowledged that, much like us, cats are ordinary.
But today I’m here to tell you that they are also supernal.
I don’t recall where I heard this word recently, but I regret to inform you that I will hereby be using it so often you will wish to box me about the ears.
Or maybe not. Here’s the definition:
relating to the sky or the heavens; celestial.
of exceptional quality or extent.
“he is the supernal poet of our age”
You can see where I’m going with this, right?
Every iota of this supernaturally spectacular word defines cats: all cats, the ones we love and the ones we’ll never know; the ones we can save and the ones beyond our grasp; the ones in the Lobby and the ones in the Lounge and the ones who make us laugh and pray and hope.
And yet, if every cat is supernal, still one soars above his peers. He is the sun among the many stars; he is the sugar plum among the prunes; he is very possibly the supernal poet of our age.
He is none other than Stanley.
Which would explain my shuddering, superabundant, supernal longing these days.
Cloistered in COVID lockdown, I visit Tabby’s Place about once a week. I long for all of the cats, even and in some ways especially the ones I haven’t had the privilege of getting to know outside of photos and stories. I long, above all, for Bucca.
But lately one marmalade space oddity has been finding his way into my yearnings and my dreams: supernal Stanley.
He came to us with the mother of all upper respiratory infections, and an alien wheeze squealing from his throat. We treated the former, but the latter has been more of a mystery. A visit to Dr. Fantastic revealed that Stanley, all emotion-laden round eyes and gingerbread fur, has both chronic rhinitis and laryngeal paralysis.
These were not the gifts we would have slipped into Stanley’s stocking. Making matters worse, batteries were not included; like a super-cool mini droid without the necessary AAAs, Stanley’s “presents” may require a return trip to the store, by which I mean specialty hospital. Our brightest light may need surgery.
It doesn’t feel supernal.
Stanley, however, can’t feel any other way.
Even though he is still a perpetual wheezemonster — call it a carol, call it a greeting, call it the song of his people — Stanley is primarily and primordially a force of fear-smashing joy. Five minutes in his purry, squealy presence and you’re laughing in spite of yourself, and at yourself, and at the mysteries that make us tremble on ordinary days.
This is a powerful little beast, all bundled up in a cartoon-character face and a supernal sweetness.
This is the kind of beast that reminds you that you’re powerful too, even when you’re terrified, perhaps especially when you admit you’re terrified.
This is just the beast we need this holiday season. And, by some strange miracle, he needed us enough to arrive just on time.
I don’t know precisely what lies ahead for Stanley and you and me. But I have supernal confidence that we will be held by a tenderness that will make us all want to squeal for joy.
If you must wheeze, wheeze celestially.
If you must weep, weep with hope.
And if you must love — and you must — love like Stanley.