Another Pandemic

The summer of 2018 was hard on us. We lost beloved kitten after beloved kitten. People in the community who fostered kittens talked about PTSD and loss.

The agony of hope and grief was indelible, but so too was the change in my experience with veterinarians.

Some refused to care for the kittens; others failed to tell us what was really killing them. I had always thought that veterinarians were doctors for animals, with the same abiding principles of integrity and common good.

That is what I thought before.

Now I know that for many it is just an income stream, a path to selling things in order to make a living.

I think about that summer. It was a bad summer for panleuk. There was a terrible tragedy unfolding for the most vulnerable among us. Back then, the people were ok, but the wee kittens had no chance.

Now I think about it because the pandemic we face this summer is counted in human lives.

Let us all hope and pray

That the people we trust with our lives

Are in this for the right reasons

And for the distance.

Our last pandemic

A couple years ago my family went through a pandemic. It was a bad year for kitten parvo or panleukopenia, and we were kitten fosters.

We lost them all and watched the feral kittens at a local park disappear one by one.

It was devastating. Some shelters were euthanizing kittens on arrival. It changed everyone who was involved.

And I stopped fostering kittens. My kids couldn’t take it anymore.

Everything felt normal on the outside that summer. Humans all around us lived totally unaware of the chaos and brutal death we experienced.

I think about that summer every day. The numbers on this pandemic are not as catastrophic as the panleukopenia, but each death represents a wound to family, friends, and community.

I believe in hand sanitizer and sterile fields, but I believe in our eternal nature more.

We need to pray, to sing loud to God. We need to make our lives count for something eternal

Every day we have

Together

We all get new names there

He was so pretty we thought he was a she, but fierce, a climber and a player, a napper and a hunter. At first I thought it was losing his mother, then I thought other things, increasingly more desperate until the end was a wild wail of hope and then the kind of grief that comes when hope dies as well.

He was our tiny harbinger. The first clue of what was to come.

We all get new names there.

Nothing Wasted

Scientists (at least the social ones) love to navel gaze at the belly buttons of the religious.

I get it. We are a messy, heterogeneous bunch. As I get older I get less and less religious but more and more convinced in the power of the God of Love.

Take this week for instance. This week we threw our all at trying to save a litter of kittens from panleukopenia.

Wrenching.

When my children poured out their grief in each loss they said, I just want them to know that I love them. I just want her to know I love her. I just want him to know I love him. Or directly to the dead–

I just want you to know I love you.

When you believe in a compassionate, omnipotent God, getting love notes to kittens is no biggie. He keeps what we have committed to Him against that Day.

Even if the day is Friday.

Even if you thought the last one might make it through.

Even if the patient weighs less than a pound.

Impending demise might make some pragmatic, other it pushes on to say, no matter what

I love you

On earth as it is in heaven.

Dearest Little One

I believe in regrief. I believe you and I will continue to regrieve the death of your mother. Recently we lost all four of our kittens to a fast moving, devastating affliction. In a week we went from joyful to devastated.

And I regrieved, the way I lost them reminding me of the way I lost you. The pain of one overshadowed by the pain of the other–even after 20 years.

Both griefs were characterized by my naive belief in the authorities in each case–the judge, the caseworkers, the lawyers for the lost daughters, the veterinarians for the kittens.

In your case I discovered that the entire system all the way to the state regulators was riddled with greed, prejudice, and corruption. You and your siblings were sold or bartered in exchange for federal subsidies for your care. Your adopted father had not only abandoned his first family, he had placed all of his assets in your adopted mother’s name to dodge child support. At one point he faced a jail sentence for failure to pay child support for his children. Things which should have hindered his ability to adopt you.

And the kittens?

Their veterinary clinic was indifferent, too busy. They were not seen in time. I could not get them any help until I found another vet, and by that time it was too late.

So in the midst of grieving for the lost kittens, I grieve for you as well–you and your siblings, you and your beautiful mother.

She had no chance in the rigged system. She had no chance but me.

And I was not nearly enough.