For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
-- Psalm 109:22
Keep your mind in hell and do not despair.
-- St. Silouan the Athonite
I was there when she was born, underneath my couch. I heard her first tiny mews.
I named her Bubbles, but I always called her Baba. And I said it like, "Bah-Bah" - like a sheep, or as my Cypriot neighbour would say, "like a ship." She knew her name well. She would prance in place like a kewpie doll and wink when I said it.
One day, after I moved her, her mother, and her siblings to my bedroom from under the sofa, when she and her siblings were still tiny, she got very ill suddenly. It was the middle of the night. She jumped off the bed and fell over. She couldn't keep her balance. She would try to stand up and just fall over.
This was soon after Nick and I split. I was on my own. I had a new vet. He was a young guy from Greece. It wasn't his clinic, but the owner was never there. It was a small clinic, not too busy, and he let me call him at odd hours. I will never forget how he coached me on the phone.
He told me what medicines to give her. I sat with the door closed in the bathroom on the toilet seat holding her, talking to her. I gave her little bits of water, and of vitamin gel. I put her back in the bedroom in a closed carrier, and let her rest, so she wouldn't hurt herself.
I drew Baba and her siblings nursing their mom in my bedroom It's one of my favourite drawings.
I don't remember much more, just that she got better. I credit my vet, and my energy that morning. And of course, God. But then God is always there, we are just usually distracted. It's hard to focus on God. It takes an enormous amount of energy.
That was about three years ago. Then last year she disappeared from the garden. It was the end of summer, beginning of fall. She was gone days, more than a week I think, about 8 days. I had started the downhill slope to comfort myself, but with caveats. I knew I had seen strange things, like cats show up, when I still had the biggest hope, but only the tiniest faith.
My Aunt with kittens when she came to visit. Baba on the far left.
And, sure enough, one evening after dark, I saw a strange figure approaching. Walking funny. Tripping a little and unsteady. She got closer and closer across the garden, and when she had reached the little bit of light coming off the front porch, in the grass where I stood, I saw that it was her. I noticed she looked confused, disoriented. I grabbed her and put her straight away in a standing enclosure. Not so much because I knew something was wrong, but because I wanted to keep her with me. Sort of like a dog grabs a bone that has strayed, and puts it in bed with him.
I put her some good food and water. I don't remember if she ate. But I do remember she was so happy to be in the enclosure. I wondered why. I put an open carrier in there with a blanket for her to make her den, and a litter box. I wrapped up in the garden and went inside. She was alive. She was home. She was with me. That's all I needed to know. How do you thank God properly at a time like that?
The next morning I was tending to her when I caught a glimpse of something very red on the inside of her leg. I tried to investigate. She wouldn't let me. But after a time just watching her do her normal things, I saw there was no skin on the inside of her leg. Just the raw meat of her muscles and tendons. They weren't torn. It was a very clean display.
My young vet had moved back to Greece by then, and I never found anyone again willing to help me at all hours. I researched myself as much as I could, and because Zooty had recently been bitten by a snake, and Bonnie had disappeared just before that, the next day I concluded it was a snake bite. Because I had recently cared for another cat, Astro, who lost the skin on his leg, I knew what to do. It was too late for an anti-venom, but not too late for antibiotics. So she stayed in the enclosure until she healed, a long time, and then I brought her inside. I think she would have been happy forever inside the enclosure.
Baba and siblings in my bedroom when they were wee
She wasn't that happy inside the house. Too many cats. She felt vulnerable. But I kept her in for months anyway, until about 2 months ago. One day I let her out. I wish I hadn't.
This morning before the sun rose I was on my way to the feeding stations, and I saw what looked like a cat's body in the dirt road in front of my neighbor's house. I know my cats go there and eat sometimes. And theirs come to my house to eat. I stopped my car and got out. At first I thought it was one of the torties, but I knew they didn't go down there. As I got closer I saw the torby coloring, and the shape of the feet, and her very distinctive head shape. I swallowed hard. I moved her off the road and put her the grass beside. I would pick her up on the way home.
I took these pictures of her early one morning in the garden last week. They are the last pictures I took of her.
I spotted the yellow wildflowers early this year, before it warmed up. There were difficulties the end of last summer, a whole string of them, but since then, until now, I cannot complain. I had a good run.
Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.
-- Henry James
I used to think of romance when I heard this song, now I think of the Holy Spirit, and how to keep Him with me.