It was hard for me. Very hard.
His health deteriorated at the same time that Matthias was so sick. I remember thinking, I can't handle this. But I handled it. I didn't do a good job at it, but I got through it. What other choice did I have?
It was painful and I had a lot of guilt. I still have a lot of guilt. And although I'd lived my whole life with cats, I wasn't ready for another.
I don't know what changed, or if anything did change. Maybe it was just the passing of time. It wasn't that the house felt empty the way it had after we lost Holden. Charlie and Jude made sure of that.
Even so, in the beginning of winter I started thinking about the possibility of rescuing a cat. I said, I'm not ready yet, but...
In truth, I was paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake.
In late December we visited a cat adoption lounge in the next town over. It was a cat foster home located in an antique and second hand store. I figured it would be a low-key, no pressure way to meet some cats in need of homes. I could pretend that I was there to shop and just happened to stop in and pet some cats (who was a fooling?).
There were two cats that immediately struck a chord with me. They were hard to miss. The biggest cats in the lounge, they were beautiful and friendly and when I learned that they were good with dogs and that they were brothers who had been together their whole lives (just like our two rescued greyhounds), it just seemed right.
But they were 10 years old. And did I really want two cats?
For nearly two months I waffled. I didn't trust that initial instinct. I didn't trust my heart.
My head provided excuse after excuse. Every worry, every "what if?" that it could possibly create, it did. And then some.
Eventually my heart gained control of the situation (helped, in part, by the fact that the city was shutting down the cat adoption lounge because of zoning laws and all the cats needed to find homes ASAP).
A week ago we brought them home.
Pepper (and every variation of it that you can imagine, from Sergeant to Dr. to Sweet to Bell to Chili...)
And Harlequin, Quincy, Quin.
I am so glad that we did.
They are sweet. Affectionate (even with the dogs). Funny. Well behaved (for cats). They settled in quickly. And just like little Jerome when we first moved into this house, they immediately gravitated to my studio.
They've claimed this chair, the comfy spot that I never get around to sitting in.
And I couldn't be happier.
I'm grateful that I didn't wait too long, that my hesitancy didn't cause me to lose them (it almost did).
But oh, it sure took me a long time to get here.
Life is short. Love. Joy. Beauty. They are all so important. They can be so fleeting. We need to make sure we don't let them slip away. We need to keep our hearts open, not let fear and guilt and worry close them off.
We're constantly faced with situations where we need to choose.
Each and every time.
Yes, this is just a story of two cats, but I think its lessons are more far-reaching than that. Listen to your heart. Follow the path that will bring more love, more beauty, more joy. No matter what that path may be, no matter where it might lead.
I don't know about you, but I need the reminder.
And although it would be easy to fill up today's Joy List with kitties, kitties, kitties, I won't do it.
Joy List Monday:
a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day
- A winter thunderstorm that didn't bring as much snow (and ice and hail) as predicted, but which covered the mud with a blanket of clean whiteness
- More flowers arriving on my plants
- Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine following some grey (making me appreciate it all the more)
- Closing this year's Handmade Joy Exchange with a total of 40 participants from 16 US states and 7 other countries!!
- Days that last longer and longer
- Beautiful sunsets
- Green tea
- Finishing a special custom print for a sweet customer
- A Sunday Chinese food lunch with my parents
- Finishing an old sketchbook and starting a new one
- This week's Sketchbook Conversation and Artist Interview (stay tuned!)
What's on your list today?