Since starting to post here, I’ve been keeping a running list of potential topics for entries.
A trend has emerged in my ideas list that I’m not proud of: subjects most interesting to me recently almost all involve tearing something apart in loud, judgmental tones, or talking about losses (I had an animal tragedy early last week), or catastrophizing in some way. Complaining, basically.
I’ve been turning ideas over, one at a time, and letting them slide specifically because I didn’t want to A) focus on things that hurt or piss me off, or B) develop a habit of complaining publicly in print, or C) grant any of this irritating business a permanent monument here.
Complaining is boring. Listening to other people complain is boring. Also it’s annoying. Also it’s a self-perpetuating feedback loop of misery and really, who needs it? Not me. So I won’t be a purveyor of it either. There’s so much of it readily available elsewhere.
Instead, I’d like to find some upsides to the things I’d rather take my lexicographical baseball bat to. Call it an exercise in gratitude.
Number one, regarding Tug Trudeau:
May 28, 2017 – June 20, 2017
I work with a local animal rescue. Tug was the runt of his litter, pushed out of the nest by his mom last Saturday, June 17. Though I’d never tried to care for a kitten so small, I immediately scooped him up and wanted to try.
He made it three full days on a bottle, me getting up at all hours to check on, cuddle and feed him. I’d have slept with him in my hands but he was so, so tiny, and so frail I didn’t dare, for fear of hurting him.
I thought it would be easier, emotionally, to care for a tiny kitten with its eyes barely open without getting attached than it would be to care for a bouncy, fuzzy little ball of energy that was all over the place, licking you & mewing in your face. Tug was first and foremost very clearly a patient — mostly immobile from weakness, unable to stand or even right himself when he rolled onto his back. He couldn’t really interact with me yet. I thought I would do what I could do, and we’d see what happened. I didn’t expect to be successful saving him, nor did I anticipate being tortured by losing him, if it came to that, which, realistically, I almost expected; so many kittens do not survive beyond twelve weeks, particularly the smallest and weakest of their litters.
But I loved him instantly, against my will. He had a fierce little personality, evident right from the start. He was a fighter, having survived being shoved out of the warm bed where the rest of his litter and his mother were, where he was separated long enough to lose most of his body heat before we discovered him. Once he chewed on my finger (no teeth); he would grasp a little with his teeny claws, and could push his bottle away with force if he didn’t want it. He waved his arms. He never cried, not until the very end.
Tug tended to thrash, but when I’d scoop him up and hold him against my heartbeat in a cupped palm, he’d quiet immediately. He would also lie peaceful when I sang, which I discovered by accident with “Rocky Mountain High”; once I realized it seemed to have the same effect as being held, I put it on repeat, lay him in his blanket on the bed in front of me, and sang quietly. He went right to sleep.
He was far behind his litter mates, developmentally. It took three full weeks for his eyes to completely open and when they did, they were blank; he was obviously still blind, as all kittens are at first, and he didn’t have a blink reflex. I had to close his eyes for him to keep them from drying out, then apply ointment to them. The ointment helped a great deal. On his last afternoon, waking from a nap, before I had a chance to re-apply it, he lifted his little head, opened his eyes on his own, and appeared to look right at me.
Now, he had seemed to look at me before, but I had known he wasn’t seeing anything; the first thing kittens see when their eyes begin to function properly are just shadows, and possibly movement, so I didn’t think anything of it at first. But this time he kept his eyes on my face, and this caught my attention. I looked back, directly into his eyes.
And I almost could see the little wheels turning as he perceived visually, possibly for the first time, looking into my face:
The tiny blue eyes weren’t blank; they were alert. He kept his eyes trained directly on me. His pupils were wide. It wasn’t bright in the room; just light enough to see him seeing for the first time. Seeing me.
I said, Hi, baby! Hi, little baby! I kissed him. It’s just me. What a good boy!
He stared and stared, and finally, closed his eyes on his own.
It was as far as he would ever grow, but this moment made the entire thing worth the whole heartbreak.