I wonder if the mouse feels some fleeting relief in its very last moments, as the cat’s fangs so swiftly snap its spinal cord, knowing it will no longer have to live in constant fear of pain or death, that the very worst has now happened and whatever comes next can hold no mystery half as terrifying. Perhaps in that last moment the mouse is even grateful for the cat, for the mercy of an end so agonizingly anticipated and now finally arrived, death as deliverance, and might whisper what took you so long, old friend? on its final exhalation.
And She is here as well, sometimes, in my daydreams: the Mother Cat, whom I am blessed to call Mother as well. This is Her room, Her quiet place of retreat to comfort, to mourn, to regain strength. I imagine She holds Her arms out to me and I sink into them like a young child (here we are all young, for we will forever be Her kittens). She holds me close as I cry for all the terrible injustices in the world. For Her children who suffer at the hands of my species; who live and die in factory farms, who are killed for sport and profit, who are discarded like inanimate objects. For the earth we continue to ruin in our greed, leaving behind a wasteland in which nothing beautiful can live. I know Bast cannot make these things go away – no deity, no matter how powerful or determined, can undo the whole extent of man’s wrongs. But Her comfort and shared sorrow feed the little flame of Hers in my chest and give me enough strength to go back out into the world and fight. When I imagine how many of Her children are suffering right this moment, hurting and dying without ever knowing the kindness of a human bond, the truth crushes me. But She helps me instead to remember those of Her children whom I have touched, each little ember that grew into a flame and has a chance, now, for a life of love. She reminds me of what I have given, what I still have to give, and of how many are in need. In this room, She lends me the strength to face another day, to make whatever difference in this world I can.
There is nothing more beautiful, nor more humbling, than an animal’s trust. You are such a fragile little thing, and yet your clear green eyes gaze up at me without fear. Despite the language barrier between us, despite the fact that your young life is just a candle flicker in my hands, you trust me without reservation. There is no concern in your gaze for how easily I could break you, but surely your instincts warn you of my size, my weight, my ability to become the predator. Your innocence, instead of being foolish, is astoundingly wise; your trust, instead of making you vulnerable, makes you a powerful player in not only your own destiny, but mine as well. We cannot communicate in our native tongues, yet so much understanding seems to pass between us. You see me, Little One, more fully than any of my own species. To be recognized so clearly, to be blessed with your whole and absolute trust as I cradle your tiny form in my hands, is a gift like nothing else. If anyone ever questioned your sacredness, they need only experience this moment of understanding which needs no words to awe and humble. Surely only the divine can grant such an honor.
I don’t know if I’ll see you again, Little Flame, and the thought breaks my heart. I’m sorry I can’t be by your side while you struggle to live. You must be so scared, so lonely. I feel like I’ve failed you and The Lady both, though I know the situation is out of my control. Still, I worry and I pray and I try not to lose hope. I know you’re in good hands; I just wish you were in mine instead. Whatever happens, I promise I won’t forget you. If you must return to The Lady’s arms, then so be it. I would rather you pass on to the Eternal Land than suffer in this one. Visit me, though, will you? We only had a few days together, and may not have any more, but I love you and I’ll miss you terribly. If you can’t come back to me in this life, then at least stop by from time to time in the next. I’ll be looking for your bright coat and listening for your gravelly voice. You’ll always be welcome in my home, be you living or spirit. I’m with you, Little Flame, even if I can’t be by you physically. Remember that even if your time here is brief, you are loved greatly. You will not be forgotten.