Some pics belie the tenderness behind them. Because when I met introverted Earl–whose history included the passing of his former owner, the relatives for whom did not find new homes for his cats and Earl was put on the street–his eyes seemed almost too sad to overcome the emotional hesitation.
And as a pet sitter, everything is always temporary and short-term—for a few days, I come in, feed, stay for a bit, leave and don’t see them sometimes for a long while between their families trips—and because of this, good connections with sensitive animals who’ve experienced abandonment are challenging to manifest. Since animals become world-weary just like humans, and know better than to get attached. For although circumstances change, once we experience such a loss as Earl had the fear usually nestles, and Earl kept his distance, skeptical, letting the other cats crowd and walking off as if giving up.
But I understood his grief, and in the justified sadness of a sweet cat someone shooed outside as if they were sweeping the floor, I more clearly felt the call to act. So I made time to find him, to sit with him, to specifically bring him into the circle of my attention (even with his sibs crowding around) because I wanted him to know he was important to me. Wanted to make an event out of “Earl”, would come in the house to the refrain “Where’s muh Earl?” so he knew I hadn’t forgotten between trips that he was that tender guy I wanted to see.
Because we’ve all looked out upon the world with sad Earl eyes, many of us coming to exist within the immovable sense of not feeling safe enough to trust the world won’t hurt us, for, in fact the world has—Purposefully, Unashamedly—until sometimes we want to even flee from this life. And while these are harsh realities I can’t erase out of existence, I didn’t want to accept that that’s all there is and as if he didn’t either, Earl met me in the space of my intentions.
And sometimes sadness and grief seem solid as if anchoring us into them yet quiet is the nurturing where from mutual loss flows compassion and connecting with our fellow humans and creatures until somehow, one day, we’re sitting on the couch and old man Earl climbs into our lap, nuzzling our hair.
For there are yet mysteries to solve, but events often become bits of truth constantly discovering itself, and when sweet Earl jumped up that first day—cat hair like love floating delicately around—I think it seasoned us both in what to do with this Life. In how to stand inside the new love we weave into existence as we survive this world in togetherness.