>photo © 2007 Jon Nicholls | more info (via: Wylio)
I Knew This Was Going To Happen
I knew this was going to happen—even before we brought her home. Just long enough for affectionate bonds to form, for my life to reorient itself around our new adoptee. And now she has to leave.
It began two-and-a-half weeks ago, when we missed an appoint at our groomers; we’d forgotten, and were late for a birthday party. We rescheduled; same “bat time,” different week. We would make sure that we were early this time around.
The drop-off went well, we were told that it would be three, or four, hours. We went about our Saturday errands. We even stopped in at the appointed time, but our dogs weren’t ready; they said they would call. We did some more shopping.
We returned to the groomers around 5:00 that afternoon. The dogs were ready, but as we were preparing to pay, one of the groomers began to tell the story of a cat she’d rescued, and how it had given birth to a litter the very next day. Of the six, there was one left: a beautiful eight week-old black female, with long, soft, shiny fur, almost hazel eyes, and a tuft of white on her chest. You have to understand: despite severe allergies, my wife is a cat lover. And one of the saddest days of our lives was when we had to give up our two cats during her first pregnancy thirteen years ago. I’ll never forget her sneezing, crying, scratching herself as she said goodbye. I never thought, or dared hope, that we would have any cats ever again. Yet there we were, that Saturday afternoon, smacked unexpectedly upside the head with the opportunity. And despite knowing the outcome, knowing with every fiber of my being that it couldn’t end any other way, I caved.
You see, it was earlier that same day that my wife broached the subject of possibly giving up our dogs. There are reasons for this that I’ll not get into here. What she was saying made a certain amount of sense, but I implored her to think of the kids, and how much they love our dogs (well, at least one of them really loves the dogs, the other is into other things). This seemed to mollify her. Which is why, when asked about adopting the cute little kitten known as “Baby,” I told her she was crazy. Perhaps that wasn’t the kindest thing to say, but while my heart secretly leapt within me at the prospect, my head was having a hard time switching gears. Truthfully, she’s not crazy: she’s one of the bravest souls I know. After all this time, and years and years of allergy shots, she was willing to put her heart out there again. Which meant I would be putting my heart out there again—risking attachment to this sweet bundle of fur the kids named “Raven.” (You have to understand, I had a cat before I had a brother, and that cat—Cornelius–was my buddy. He tolerated my shenanigans when I was little (I once tried to flush him down the toilet), he was brave (he dropped out of willow tree onto the back of my friend’s German Shepherd—maybe in his mind he was trying to protect me–and went to town with teeth and claws before running off into the woods that separated our properties), and I loved him until he died at age eleven).
It was an awful risk for both my wife and myself, bringing Raven home, but we did it. And as instantly as we’d fallen in love, so did our kids. But despite this, no matter how great our love, my wife is miserable with her allergies. Despite the weekly shots she’s been getting for years, it’s not working out. Our family needs her healthy more than we need a cat, thus Raven will be going back to the kind woman who rescued her mother; hopefully, she’ll find a home where she will be loved. And though I knew this was going to happen, it hurts—it hurts bad. Raven owns a little piece of my heart that our dogs have never really occupied. In the end, if all we can say is that we tried, then at least we tried. It was worth the risk. Love is always worth the risk.
I wrote the above four months ago. We–I–held onto Raven, despite my wife getting sicker with her allergies, all that time. I didn’t want to let her go. Despite having to confine her to one room of our house, I held on. What kind of life is that for a cat?
Honestly, it’s not just this cat; no, I do it with virtually everything in my life: I hold onto things, relationships, etc. well beyond healthy limits. If I didn’t have the wife I do, you would probably see me on one of those “hoarding” shows. I have trouble letting go.
If I may venture a guess, I suspect this behavior has its roots in my coming from a broken home. I don’t want to pop-psychologize, but maybe I try to compensate for the family I couldn’t hold onto by holding onto “stuff?”
Jesus, deliver me from this stupid, foolish, soul-cluttering behavior!
How about you? Do you hold on beyond the “best before” date?
Update: for anyone looking for a sweet cat to bring home, here’s the link to the Humane Society’s listing for Raven.