I folded Eliza’s laundry out on the patio this morning. It was far too beautiful outside to be inside.
I watched Kitty and Maisey frolic. Kitty was rolling in the sun and meowing for Maisey to join her. I thought back to all of the nights I woke up at 4 a.m. and crawled into bed with Kitty holed up in Eliza’s room.
I remembered how skinny she got because she wasn’t eating. Her fur was falling out in clumps due to the stress she felt when we added Maisey to the mix. I recall believing they’d be best friends and keep each other company. I even thought Kitty might feel added compassion since she, too, was rescued.
This could be their bond.
“We make plans and God laughs.” It’s been a slow and rather tortured transition. It is finally turning the corner to tender.
Maisey has wanted so desperately to be friends. When the moments of opportunity present themselves, she gets so enthusiastic she scares Kitty away with her genuine excitement. Watching them has become a favorite part of my morning ritual. I often have breakfast outside, and today, the breeze blew over me. What it stirred up in me, however, was a silver lining so bright I just had to share it.
It was May 2017 when I found Kitty in the engine of my car. It was Cinco de Mayo. She meowed her way out, and when Alan lifted the hood, there were two little eyes staring up at us. Talk about attention-seeking! She gets it from her Mama. She crawled out of the engine and made a home in our hearts.
Dylan and his boys were here for Rolling Loud, a music festival in Miami.
We walked into the house with bagels and donuts, but the tiny ball of fur was the most delicious treat of all. The boys took turns holding her. She was hard to resist. As a group, we brainstormed about who knew someone who would adopt her and make her a forever home. I knew Alan would never go for another kitten. We had two cats for 17 years. They were our family, but upon their passing, it was written in the stone (Alan’s heart) that cats were off-limits.
I would often joke about being late to Alan’s funeral one day because I stopped at the shelter to adopt a handful of kitties.
Alan has a dark sense of humor and his wit cuts like a knife through soft butter. So in my house, it’s sink or swim. I’ve had to step up my dark side just to keep my head above water at times. When in Rome, you know?
The next morning, Alan drove the boys to Miami and left me alone with “Buttercup” for five heavenly hours. This was a strategic and ultimately fatal error on his part. It gave me just enough time to fall in mad love. Then she worked him over. He surrendered, and she’s been a handful ever since. I might add she’s been a heart full as well.
When I first heard meows coming from my engine a few days before the rescue, Alan told me I must have imagined it. I stopped at red lights and looked under the hood. I was not making up that sweet, little meow.
On that day, he’d call my cell, meowing and hanging up. I warned you about his humor.
Let us fast forward to the actual rescue, a 911 phone call, two fire trucks, a newspaper article, a feature on the morning news, and a magazine cover. I often remind Alan that if I had listened to him, we wouldn’t have this sweet, little furry celebrity in our midst. The heart wants what the heart wants. His default setting is “no,” and it’s not even that he means it. His thinking is that less is easier. Inactivity means less stress to him. It just does.
Never in a million years did I think I’d convince him to keep her. I waged an impressive social media campaign, and the poor guy didn’t stand a chance. Kitty worked her magic as well and the rest is history.
In the last few months, I was running her to the vet once a week to have her stomach drained from heart failure. On another day, I waited in my car while they pumped her with fluids for her kidney failure. It was her time. We loved her so thoroughly; there was nothing to regret.
In the immediate aftermath, I enjoyed the ease of life. She had been a 24/7 job that I was honored to have, but I was exhausted. People started telling me I should get another dog. I was rather enjoying my freedom and knew it was too soon. I was still actively licking my wounds. And then, in an instant, it was time.
I quietly initiated a search on the down-low. It started with a soft opening until I got Alan’s half blessing, but only if I would agree to adopt a dog, not a pup. I had, but on one requirement: it would have to be a rescue.
I oohed and aahed at all of the precious pups being sold. There were certain breeds I was especially drawn to, but I was determined to choose the dog who most needed me. I fell hard for Vaughn. I would have named him Finn because it sounded a lot like Vaughn and it was cool.
But sadly, he would never become Finn. He had been attacked with a machete when he was living on the streets, so his lifestyle was that of a predator and my kitty wasn’t going to be safe.
When we didn’t get him, I felt someone had sliced through my heart. I crawled into my bed and cried for 24 hours. Alan ultimately came around to the idea of Vaughn, but the universe did not.
I documented that journey. The one common thread woven throughout my entire search for Maisey was Alan’s being “kinda” on board, and yet completely and utterly against getting another dog. “It would be hard…” “We had just finished the house…” and so on.
What he failed to grasp was that I was quarantined in a house alone with a cat. Alan would leave at 5:30 a.m. and come home 12 to 14 hours later. Those hours started to feel like they were turning in on me. I was lonely and it was depressing. I wanted someone to run to the door when I started to turn the key. I wanted someone to curl up with me on the couch whenever I did. Kitty did that but in classic cat form. It was only on her terms.
I kept searching while Alan kept “poo-pooing” the whole idea.
Today, Alan is so deeply in love with Maisey that it borders on the absurd. He says she’s not a dog; she’s a human. She has breathed life into our home in a way that only she could. She jumped into my car when I pulled up to the rescue and she continues to sprinkle magic “Maisey” dust wherever she goes.
Believe it or not, that was the backstory.
Here’s the sparkle and shine. If I had listened to Alan and his default “no” about keeping that puffy little kitten, I would not have this cat who makes my heart purr. If I had listened to Alan tell me (the night before Maisey was to be delivered) that she would be too much work, I would not have the absolute joy of being her human.
If we let life’s obstacles get in our way, we get what others want.
It’s been 32 years of marriage, and Alan still has not yet entirely made peace with the notion that my heart beats differently than his does. I am sensitive to my own detriment at times.
Often, I feel more deeply than I am prepared to. I have come to terms with the fact that it is just how I am wired. I came out like this. I understand his default setting, and deep down under layers of life, he knows he chose me to learn about love. I am his life teacher. He is my roots, and I am his wings. He grounds me, and I lift him up and out of his comfort zone into the light. It’s what we do for each other.
If you know who you are, you have a gift. I have learned when to spend time thinking about something wise that Alan has shared. And I have learned when to say to myself, “thank you for sharing, but I got this.”
It is my hope that when you have read this, you might take a moment to think about whom you’ve given your power away to. Whom you have allowed to let your “yes” become their “no.”
How can you let love lead you and help to navigate the direction of your dreams? Follow your heart but take your brain with you. Think less and feel more. Make a difference. Shine your light on someone who has forgotten they have their own. Share a kind glance or treat a stranger to coffee. Life is a string of little big things, or big little things. Either way, it is most human to live tenderly and share your gifts with others.
Listen closely to your heart and in that quiet, you will hear your soul speak.
Love softens the hardest hearts. It is all we really need and all we need to do.