The newest member of the house is 15 year old Tomkin, a peppered grey black cat with sun bleached red highlights we met at The MEOW Foundation.
Abandoned by his “family”, he lived on the streets for more than a year with the help of a kind neighbor. Surviving another winter would have been long odds for Tomkin based on his malnourished state when he arrived at MEOW this fall. His bony hips and spine made you think twice about petting him for fear of who knows what.
Age was already working against Tomkin, so throw in appearances and his chances for adoption were pretty low. For us this was a no-brainer really to make room for him to live out his days, whether a month or years in number.
Besides, how could you not warm to this overly skinny cross between the Pink Panther, a Pharaoh’s companion, and an Imperial Snow Walker from The Empire Strikes Back. Look into his eyes and you see a very gentle, wise soul looking back.
I quickly discovered, however, I wasn’t quite prepared for when Tomkin came home.
On his first night, only one week ago, he settled onto the hardwood floor far enough away from the fireplace to catch the slightest edge of heat. In that moment the enormity of what I had stepped into hit me like a ton of bricks. If I woke up the next morning to discover Tomkin had died during the night I’d be devastated.
Was I really prepared to face the end before anything really began?
Especially when only six weeks earlier we went through the shock of losing another cat in only eleven whirlwind days between symptoms and euthanasia?
The answer was pretty clear.
I didn’t need 15 years, 15 weeks or 15 hours to form a bond or care more deeply.
I was all in.
All in as All. In.
No holding back just in case. No playing safe. No proceeding with caution. No controlling how close you get or how much you let in.
I was smack dab in the middle of the intensity and depth love is and we are.
Pulling back would be too painful from this point. The only direction was to head on in where my thoughts meandered to a recent question on Ponder This facing a similar situation:
Recently saw a comment about a free run turkey farm where they were raised with love. Got me to pondering … Can you raise an animal with love that you intend to kill?
No, I’m not going to kill Tomkin.
But I am walking into this relationship with the end much more clearly in my awareness than pushing it off to some distant time that’s easy to ignore and forget.
I’m all in if even for a day.
While I can’t imagine myself raising animals with the intention to kill them, I can see there are some pretty special people who can be all. in. with a pre-determined end. Also true of people who go all. in. to a relationship where a terminal illness or permanent separation is present from the start.
Love by degree is not what love truly is. Nor are we.
Could the truth be the end is the freedom we seek in the present to be fully ourselves?
The fortunate part of questions with grey answers is the longer our journey to clarity, the more deeply we get to know ourselves. I can see this particular question of love is a long journey indeed.