I sometimes ponder the fact that animals mostly live in the present, unburdened by thoughts of mortality; never mind dwindling bank balances, what to cook for dinner, or how much they weigh. Would we be happier if we were unaware of our mortality? Would we still cherish life? I tend to think the answer is “Not so much.” The Pets chez nous certainly give every evidence of enjoying their lives, often with every cell in their little bodies. But cherish? Dream a dream beyond nailing that chipmunk in the bush over there or hoping Mom will throw a piece of steak my way? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, they do know how to live in the moments of their lives.
A few posts ago (see “Dust” in May) I talked about how our neighbor Catherine was dying, and she did die on May 29. She left behind to mourn her beloved cat, Coco. I’ve been taking care of Coco off and on since the beginning of April, and most of that time she has been all alone in the house where she has lived for ten years, since the day she walked in the back door as a stray kitten and told Catherine they belonged to each other. I knew her when Catherine was alive, of course, but we’ve forged a special bond in these last few months, and I became determined to find my kitty friend a good home when the time came.
Fortunately, Catherine’s son was all too glad to relinquish that responsibility to me. He’s not an animal person, and in fact he’s a rather unlikeable fellow except for one little unaccountably kind and loving thing he did for his mother. The last two weeks his mother was alive, he took Coco to visit her every day that he was in town, and she stayed on Catherine’s bed for hours at a time. No one knows for sure if Catherine was ever aware of Coco’s presence, but I like to think she was.
Anyway. After the funeral, Catherine’s son let me know that he was anxious to get rid of Coco and get on with his life and gave me permission to “find her a home” or “take her somewhere.” With the help of a flyer, emails, calls, caring friends and caring strangers, a home for Coco has been found, and it will be a wonderful one. A doctor from the hospital where I used to work will be taking Coco home with him. I had never met him before now, but he is a compassionate, tender, and funny man who will give this little lady cat a good life once again. To make it all even better, Sheila and I took an instant liking to him, and I hope we will continue to know him and become real friends.
Coco’s new dad is waiting until Monday to pick her up, because he was visiting his own human father out of town this weekend, and didn’t want to leave her alone in a brand new place. When I went next door to feed her this afternoon, I went through our usual cuddling ritual first, and I was holding her close to my chest and telling her all about how very soon she won’t be alone anymore, and she’ll have a new person to love who loves her back.
I told her that just as we think we’ve had our last adventure, or the future is looking bleak, or we don’t believe we’ll ever love again, something wonderful like this happens, and we always have to remember that and believe it. Coco listened, but she didn’t know what I was talking about. She was living in the moment, snugged tight against my heart sounds, getting her eyebrows stroked and purring loudly. Life doesn’t get any better, she might have said, than right now.