It’s been a very long time. And for my three blog fans I apologize—so many emotions, thoughts, and events have been swirling through my center that I lost myself… ever so briefly. What I have found is that love is not always sterile, or warm and fluffy. Love finds us in many forms, many events, and many hearts. When we open our eyes, when we see clearly, we realize it is surrounding us. How we choose to respond is the difference between spending a lifetime searching for that “warm and fluffy” or seeing the unsterile and embracing it. My recent life has been filled with death and loss. It is emotional and raw. It is also my right of passage in this current form and time I inhabit. I realized not so long ago I have the capacity for messy, unwashed, and sometimes painful love. This is who I am. This is how I live.
We often find the capacity for love in mending a broken soul. But what if that soul was not intended to stay, or be “restored”? What if our lesson was to repair and face loss despite our planning for a “happy ending”? What if in our actions, despite ourselves, were to allow a soul release and passage to the next life? And what if… oh what if, in so doing we found some clarity and realized while heartbreaking, we found our actions brought a sense of release to two souls?
In late March 2017 I worked with our local municipal shelter to rehome a feral cat to our small feral group at our home. Jules was shutting down at the shelter and would not be capable of being an indoor “pet”. Following a two week crated acclimation period he was released in the hope he would accept our space and join our small feral crew we cared for. An insulated outdoor shelter was prepared and placed in a secluded area with the goal Jules would return when released and have adequate shelter for the months of rain and cold to come. I watched diligently following his release, but did not see him return. I was heartbroken, praying he found an alternate shelter and food source in another feral group.
Less than one week later, I noticed a new cat, a male long hair crawling into the shelter. He made himself highly visible to me, coming in and out of the shelter. He strangely allowed me to get close. Close enough to see he was starving and suffering severe infection with green discharge in his eyes and nose and an upper respiratory rattle. I began bringing fresh food and water daily for 3 days. The cold spring rains began, and his food went untouched because it was immediately water logged. I bought small sturdy dishes and began putting them INTO the front of his tiny Styrofoam straw-filled shelter. To my shock, he allowed me, and began eating immediately… before my hand was completely withdrawn. I picked up liquid antibiotic and began mixing it in baby food and cat food. He consumed it—ravenously. In four days I noticed the URI rattle had dissipated. I named him Radagast because he resembled the forest Wizard from the Tolkien Trilogy in his coloration and disheveled appearance. Over the next two weeks Radagast remained in his shelter eating the food I brought three times a day with medication. He allowed me to touch him—hissing the entire time but pushing his body into my hand. Each time I withdrew and attempted to leave he cried like a tiny baby, indicating the touch was welcome but I better understand he was a wild beast who could eat me alive should he decide to do so. The rains ceased after six straight days and the sun came out. Radagast began lounging in the sun in the side yard in front of his shelter. He would leave daily for short periods of time, always to return in the afternoon and lie in the sun, and crawl into his shelter around 6 pm when I brought his dinner, always to be there in the morning when I brought his breakfast.
He allowed me to sit next to him in the side yard and read to him. He allowed me to clear the dried matted discharge from his face, neck, ears and nostrils. Again hissing the entire time, but allowing me to care for him. I needed to have him evaluated by my veterinarian, but he was having no part of me trying to get him into a carrier. Yet he allowed me to pick up the entire shelter and put it into my car. I tried to contain him by blocking the opening with towels—nope. No such luck. I found myself driving down the highway with a feral cat sitting on the console. I looked at him, he looked back, as if to say “Don’t breathe a word of this—when I tell the story I was formidable!” I assured him he would be remembered as both kind and fierce and that I may even throw in a few imaginary wounds he inflicted that only he and I would know were a fabrication. It was at this time Radagast wandered onto my lap—again, hissing the whole time in between giving me a few head boops. Just so I would know he wasn’t “tame”, and I should understand the gift. So girl and fearsome creature ride down the highway at 75 MPH… nothing to see here… just taking my wild beast for a ride in my lap.
When we got to the vet I was dealt a crushing blow. Radagast had highly advanced FeLV (feline leukemia virus). He was also in pain. Our only option was to euthanize. Not that I didn’t run through every reasonable, as well as unreasonable, scenario and option in my brain in about a NASA second. But this was it. All I had done was for nothing, for him to die. The antibiotic had cleared his lungs temporarily. My warm compresses had cleared his eyes and nostrils. But it was all useless. I took his little body for cremation and picked out a beautiful red heart urn. And then I came home– broken and angry. It was several hours before I could go out to his shelter to collect his food dishes. And that was when I saw it. That was when the enormity hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. In front of his food dishes was a tiny red cat toy; a tiny bedraggled and well-loved cat toy. A cat toy which was not there when I had fed him that morning—which meant he had gone to retrieve it and bring it back at some point between breakfast and when I took him to the vet.
And it occurred to me that saving doesn’t always mean restored health. Maybe healing is only about this moment and what another soul needs, in turn providing what our soul needs. What if saving a life is only to offer a chance to lie in the sun knowing needs have been met for that moment? What if love isn’t sterile and clean? What if it’s about clearing out infection and pus if only to allow the soul to shine and move forward? What if moving forward is leaving our idea or version of this “life” behind? So while I desperately try to remember you, Radagast, and let you go at the same time—I know in my heart our paths were destined. And I have your heart which you freely left outside your shelter for me to care for. And so I shall. So to all of you; wipe the sleep and cosmic goo from your eyes and awaken, because we need you.
P.S. Jules showed himself for the first time in 6 months and he is alive and appearing well <3