love in the time of cholera*

On Monday, my daughter was driving home from our camp and found a kitten on the side of the road. A tiny kitten. An injured kitten, one leg splayed off at an oh-so-wrong angle. A scared kitten.

She called to ask for advice, and I told her to go to all the nearby houses to see if it belonged to anyone, and if not, to bring it here.

Mind you, I have five cats. Mind you, I can’t afford another one. But still, it was the right thing to do.

She brought it home and I made some calls, and was advised to take it to the Humane Society, where most likely, it would be euthanized.

It was a very young black kitten, long-haired, with a face like a cute little bat. I almost took a picture, but then decided not to. I tried not to look at its sweet little face as we drove to the shelter. I tried to think about how we were doing what was best for everyone involved, I tried to think that maybe they would fix it, save it, put it up for adoption.

In truth, I don’t know what they ended up doing. And, in truth, I don’t want to know. I want to leave the possibility open that it survived. In truth, I wish I had taken it to the vet and paid a giant bill that I can’t afford and brought it home to become one step crazier on the crazy cat lady scale.

Oh, I know, I did the best I could. But I can’t stop thinking about that little face, so vulnerable, so sweet, so small. I can’t help wishing I had been able to save one more tiny kitten, or for that matter, the world.

Yesterday, I came across this quote by May Sarton: “The hardest thing we are asked to do in this world is to remain aware of suffering, suffering about which we can do nothing.”

Of course, I know this is about far more than tiny kittens. So much of the world needs saving. So much of the world cannot be saved.

But why is it that doing what seems like the right thing feels oh-so-wrong?

How is it that the person that actually hit the cat was able to just keep on going, and I can’t stop thinking about the poor little thing? I can’t stop seeing that little bat face.

Perhaps it is simply too much a reminder of the fragility of life. Perhaps I am projecting some inner sense of vulnerability. Or the kitten was just a dark, fuzzy metaphor for all the things I want to save in this world, but cannot. Perhaps I just have a soft spot for kittens.

Or, perhaps, I am just plain crazy.

Either way, sometimes the world is a cold, hard place. More than likely, I should leave the word sometimes out of that sentence.

I have to put that knowledge in my back pocket for a while and walk around with it.

I don’t know what else to do with it just yet.




From the book by Gabriel García Márquez

11 Responses to “love in the time of cholera*

  • Michael Says:

    Such a small messenger with such large lessons to give us all; such is the well lived life.

  • MR M Says:

    you can’t be everything to everyone-but we should die trying

  • Debi Says:

    so many what ifs and why nots and whys and the truth is, we are not god, we are only part of god, only part of the universe, and we don’t have all the powers he/she/it has. what we DO have, if we are lucky, is a tender heart that aches with the knowledge of our limitations. the wondrous thing, to me, is that despite that aching, we continually stretch our hearts as far as we can, until we are once again faced with our powerlessness, with our inability to fix everything. we know we will hurt and we do it anyway.

    that is why i come here, why i love you. you are a lucky one with a heart that hurts when it should.

  • Mother Teresa Says:

    Your soul wanted to save the kitten and take it to the vet. Your ego took it to the shelter… sigh.

  • nana Says:

    “suffering about which we can do nothing”
    but doing the “very best ” that we can do —
    sometimes helps to lessen the suffering.
    Sweet Kelly & Kimmer , you did the very best you could do and for that Lil’ Bat thanks you both.

  • Barbara Says:

    I love that quote. It’s easier to turn away and pretend not to see, but it’s not the right thing. You did the right thing even if it feels wrong. I think you already know that though, but like me, wish that knowledge helped.

  • Maery Rose Says:

    Such a tough decision when you know you can’t save them all. When I watch some of the programs where certain shelters take HUGE measure to save a very sick animal I wonder how was that animal the lucky one? Who is paying for that? Why don’t vet schools take animals like the kitten?

    It’s hard being one of the people that wonders such things and who cries upon seeing a dog or cat lying dead on the shoulder. But worse yet to be a person who doesn’t care.

  • Pat Byers (Tilda) Says:

    sending you a hug, and with thoughts of you as i see you. as you always are. kind hearted, deep, caring, sensitive. it keeps me coming back…..

  • Anna Montgomery Says:

    Oh this breaks my heart. I wish I had something wonderfully wise to say but I can’t yet as I’m still crying. Sending empathy and positive thoughts.

  • Stereo Says:

    As Michael said, it’s these lessons sent to us in unlikely and often tiny heartbreaking packages that make us who we are. Your sorrow is evident in this post and I wish there was something more I could do than tell you that your kindness does not go unnoticed and in your own way, you are making the world (which does suck) a little brighter.

  • Kathryn Dyche Dechairo Says:

    Oh my heart aches . . . life’s lessons can be hard to swallow.

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