I thought you would feel more… lacking. Emptier somehow, almost incorporeal. But no, you were as solid in death as you were in life. As I lifted you from the road I felt the weight of your body in my hands, fat and muscle and bone under soft fur. When I laid my hand on your side you might have been just asleep, save for the stillness of your chest. That’s where I lay my hand on my own cat as he sleeps at my side, feeling with every rise and fall the life pumping within him. Is there someone tonight whose own hand gropes in the dark for the comfort of your presence yet touches only your vacant space? I wonder, when they find you will you feel as heavy to them as you felt to me? Or will their hands register the absence of your soul as an unbearable lightness?
Reveal yourself!, I command the raging spirit as it snarls at me. Reveal yourself! It bares long fangs; its red eyes roll wildly with a feral madness. Reveal yourself! It lunges but I do not back down and I do not lower my outstretched arms. Reveal yourself!, I cry and the monstrous spirit howls in fury as my words finally dismantle its menacing facade. It shifts, shrinks, and by the time it regains its true form the howl is only a pitiful wail of despair. I kneel and pick the tiny spirit up, cup her in my hands and hold her close to my heart. She’s just a baby, a kitten barely six weeks old. That’s all the life she got this time around – six weeks. Six short weeks of fear and pain, enough time to experience the world’s cruelties but not enough time to understand them, and then death. She’s not even given the dignity of a grave because there is no one to mourn her. No one to remember her. No one to name her, even posthumously, so her spirit might know peace.
Fear, pain, death. No wonder she became so warped.
I realize I’m weeping, curled over this trembling little soul as if I can shield her from the horrors she’s already faced. Mother, I sob. Mother, I can’t do this. I can’t do this. How am I supposed to do this? I’m not strong enough to bear the weight of these truths; I’m not brave enough to open my heart to these sorrows. I fear they’ll drive me mad as well, that I’ll become a monster if I can’t gentle this awful tide of despair rushing through me. But that wouldn’t be fair to this spirit or the millions just like her who deserve recognition and empathy. If I can’t change the world completely, if there will always be innocent lives falling through the cracks, I should at least offer the solace of grief. Someone should carry the memory of all those lost souls so their brief lives weren’t in vain. I am a daughter of Bast; it is my duty and my honor. I don’t think I’m strong enough, it’s true, but I know my mother thinks I am. I must trust that is enough.
Luck is such a relative concept. A lucky dollar might not buy me much, not even a cup of tea, but it can sure buy a lot for a needy cat in a far country. That’s why I give to TWS – because I know the little bit of luck I won’t miss can make a life-saving difference for a hungry cat. Do you have a little luck you can spare too?
The message read: Dear Whiskers’ Syndicate, Are you by any chance still taking in strays? I have a litter of kitties with their mom. I was helping out my neighbors because the mom gave birth to them in their house and really didn’t want them there. Now I’ve kept them in mine for over 1…
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.