Winter gives

Winter gives

We come to the twilight of the year.

Will we mourn the sun, or turn our chins up to the skylights?

Will we lament leaves and lilies, or ascend the bare hills?

In short: will we be humans, or will we be cats?

Mayo lost it all. Mayo risked warm arms again. Mayo knew that all was not lost.

At Tabby’s Place, the answer is generally “51% human, 49% feline, but trying very hard to flip the seat.”

Nothing makes us yearn for our honorary whiskers and tails quite like winter, or the million windy winterings that can strip a life.

Like Mayo, you had some bark whittled off this year. I know you did. Unlike Mayo, that plundering did not include the loss of the only home you can recall.

Adopted from us as a kitten, our condiment-called queen was dropped off at a public shelter just after her favorite person was dropped off at college. One microchip scan later, Mayo was headed to a home she’d not remember, yet that would always take her in: Tabby’s Place.

This was not the story of your year, not exactly. But in some shadows, you lost a sense of being home in the world, lost soil and certainties and somethings large and small. I know you did, because this was a year, and you were here for it.

Emergence is an odyssey.

And now you stand teetering on the edge of Thanksgiving, leaning over the guardrails into the gaudy gauzy weeks of frenzy, and wondering what winter will do with you.

Mayo can and cannot answer that question.

She can: she has been on an expedition to winter, and she has returned with stories and saplings from the far country. Being at least 51% human, we assume that nothing grows out there, where the ground is hard and cats are rolled like snowballs from their homes. We think winter is the deafening deadness that comes after the desperate drums, the loss of the lights that lent us life.

But Mayo has been inside the music box, and she has swallowed the song. When Mayo lost her home and her people, Mayo kept looking. More accurately, love kept looking, and love’s quests do not return empty. And so it was that Mayo lived deep winter in summer, only to be sung into spring while leaves fell and daylight departed.

Seasons are as inscrutable as cats, and calendars are too tidy to tell the truth.

And so, in autumn, spring would fling Mayo headlong into the garden, green and grinning and glutted with goofy gladiolas who bloomed in her presence. Mayo’s arrival made us glad, and nothing makes you grow like being someone’s gladness.

In the wise madness of Tabby’s Place, Mayo bloomed. She snuggled instantly. She forgave everything.

She went on to be adopted by a family so phenomenal, we wonder if they may be 51% feline.

Mayo was growing all along.

This is more than a dream come true. This is Thanksgiving proven true.

In the winter of loss, Mayo was changing, picking up smooth stones. Here was a kiss, unearned and unashamed. There was a nebular neck-scratch from that volunteer with the long fingers. Here was a meal, mashed meat flavored with extra mercy. There was the night, soft as sherpa, the winking navy smile over the skylights, right on time.

Convinced of kindness, Mayo sprinted — perhaps through one of Tabby’s Place’s rumored secret passageways — from the calendar to the mystery, from past-bruised to future-kissed.

Mayo took us at our word that we loved her, and Mayo took us to the place where the best times and the worst times sit at the same table and work things out.

We saw it in Mayo’s eyes. She was gathering evidence. She was gathering seeds. She was gathering herself up under the wings of winter, where all the light collects at year-end so it can be strong again.

And when we gather with our humans and our cats, the gaudy and the gentle, the bawdy and the benevolent, the strutting and the scared (and we are all scared), we can be strong again.

Loss thunders. Hope whispers. Love wins.

We can wear old winter flowers in our lapels: the loss that split us open to new love. The horrid hateful move that rearranged the pillars of the earth…for the better. The thing we couldn’t do, until we did, and now we can’t forget that miracles happen.

We can press smooth stones into each other’s paws. Here. Remember when you couldn’t write a word for months, only to be filled poetry from beyond yourself. Here. Remember the days you languished, eating stale Fig Newtons on your back while watching Nailed It! reruns, only to resurge into your most radiant season.

Here. Remember the heartbreak that made you curse the day you were given a heart, only to be given a new heart and a new song.

Here. Remember that unimaginable loss birthed Tabby’s Place, which births unconditional love daily.

Never stop looking. Never stop expecting. Never stop giving thanks.

Here. Remember that Mayo’s hopeless situation led to Mayo’s great gladness. Adopted again, adored forever, Mayo took ten minutes to burst forth from her carrier and brandish the full force of her trust. Her adopters are in awe. Mayo is in awe. Awe itself is in awe.

Here. Remember what grows beneath rocks, between questions, under twilight.

Here. Become more feline.

Mayo can’t tell you what this winter will do to you, not exactly. But she’s pulling for you, and for me, as we eat and shop and argue and embrace and step through into the twilight.

We have grown in winters past.

We will grow in winters yet to come.

We will know greater joy than we can yet imagine.

Mayo can tell you that.

Happy Thanksgiving, kittens.

And to give you just a bit more reason for giving thanks…a smorgasbord of quotes and photos from Mayo’s AwesomeAdopters:

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