Friday, September 9, 2011

It's not all coffee and kittens...

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? 
What is a bad man but a good man's job? Lao Tzu

I am a dog person.

I dig loyalty, long walks, and loving scratches.   Yesterday, I walked into the Starbucks, Lihue, my satellite tutoring office to meet my student, with a large stack of handouts, angling towards a table when I hear it:
Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.
I see the little white paws underneath a large white truck.
Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. 

No, I think. Not today. “Can you believe it?” I look at my student.
She shrugs rather unaffectedly.
I see several onlookers, and one sweet girl pulling her boyfriend behind her towards the truck. Good. They will take care of it.

Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. 
“I mean doesn’t that sound break your heart?” I ask my student.
“Mmfp,” she says as a teenager can and opens her SAT book.
Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. 

We begin analyzing simple algebra - Meow. Meow. – and look over the questions that she is unable to answer. Until I hear a gasp, behind me. I whip my head around:

Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow is walking in the middle of traffic, with four cars stopped and heading toward the parking lot.

“I’m sorry, I have to try,” I say to my student, walking away from our table and towards the kitty. I take my breath into my heart, so as not to stun or charge the poor thing further away. He stops and turns at me. In one swoop, I have him by his scruff as any mother would, and I walk us both back to the table. 

Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. 
“Someone saw a girl dump him out of her car, in the parking lot and left,” my student scrunches.
“What?” I say half in disbelief and half at Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow who is not recognizing me as his savior, but rather his captor. His white face with grey mask and brilliant eyes is petrified. His tail is matted and leaving a dark smear on my skirt, with the slightest tinge of red, which I hope is from the red dirt Earth. His two back legs are similarly scoffed, but not over taken.

“They say a girl drove up, dropped him out of her car and left.”
I survey the people at the surrounding tables. Some are smiling in appreciation, some in amusement. All are watching how I am going to handle this cat, just one more kitten on the feline overrun Kaua`i. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. 

“Can’t you put it in your car?” my student offers.
“No,” her grandmother responds, handing me a small latté, “it’ll ruin her car. What do you want me to do?” Grandmom asks.
“A box, maybe?”
Grandmom is already on her way, shaking her head. 
Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow is in my lap and the teenager and I are back in the land of the SAT. My mind is on the test, but my hand rests on the racing heart of the little kitten. How could someone leave him in a parking lot?

For the next hour, we tutor and meow. One woman stops to pet the cat, but scuttles away as soon as she realizes it needs help. One eight year old boy comes over with a straw and a glass of water, which Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow greatly appreciated, and so did I. Another woman, calls the Humane Society for me – duh. 
When she clicks off her phone announcing, “They’ll come as soon as they can.”
I realize that I thought I would take Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow myself. That I would perhaps bring him to my friend that wanted a kitten, or my other friend that already had a brood – what’s one more?

“She’s not coming back,” I say to Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.   Haven’t we all had that moment? Our heart calls to another that is no longer available – gone. I wanted Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow to be ok. I wanted this wrong to be right.
I place Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow in the box open and on my lap, noticing that there are a few flies attracted to him. In trying to situate him, the box tips and the kitten’s head nestles, upside down, right into my sternum – I hold him there, and try to pour as much love into that little cranium as I could. I firmly stroke his chin, how frightening it is to be left to fend on your own.
“Yes. The answer is `C,’” I throw the box on the ground, and I take Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow onto my chest fully, close to my heart, and I just hold him there, letting the steadiness of my heartbeat reassure him. 
And then, it starts: He purrs. 
Just like that.
I slide him back onto my lap, nestled tightly. I tutor. He purrs. The more he purrs, the better I feel. This is going to be – 
“They’re here!” my student tosses.
I turn to see “Jessica” as stitched on her Humane Society shirt, with arms outreached.
“But, he just started to purr,” slips out before I realize the bond.
She reaches, and I offer Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow to her. I don’t say goodbye; I don’t say anything to him. He was not mine. He never was meant to be. I was never his savior; I was just a person who loved him for a little bit before he moved on.

“Oh, he’s a real cutie,” Jessica smiles. “Thanks for holding him so long."
“Of course. You’re welcome,” I say.
It’s a tricky thing to realize that part of healing is letting go. I have every confidence that Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow will find a loving home, that he has earned a life that is deserving of his tenacity. Sometimes the part we play is unseen, but is terribly necessary. I’ll always have Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow to thank for that.

People will not always do nice things.  But there also, will be people to hold you, until your heart learns to purr again.

My pal Kyla came from the Philadelphia Humane Society
eleven years ago, as did many of her friends.
If you are looking to bring some furry 
love into your life, please visit your local Humane Society.


AmyC said...

Oh Kate... what a beautiful moment. Thank you for reminding us that it's equally important to love and to let go.

Wisdom of One said...

Aloha Amy -- Thank you! Sending you big kine love from Oahu.

Susan Jane LeHoven said...

Aloha Kate, I've had a lovely time reading some of "Wisdom of One." Keep it coming . . .