Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, Hobbes!

Am I still allowed to call Hobbes my kitten baby?

It’s her birthday today! She’s 1! On the paperwork that came with her, her birthday is listed as November 10, which means that one year ago, she came into this world and I didn’t even know her then, or even know that I would be adopting a kitten.

In fact, I blogged a year ago on this date. Those familiar with my thus far erratic posting habits may be a little surprised by this revelation, but here’s the proof. We’d just been robbed. I was a different person then. Yes, I was strong and brave through the experience, but I look back at my past self and feel a little sorry for all that she didn’t yet know. While she was seeking to refresh her perception of home with positivity, and reclaim the space that had been violated, thousands of miles away in Virginia, a cat had just been born. My past self was strong, but she was unaware that the little creature who would open a new vulnerability in her had just entered the world.

Hobbes was about six weeks old when Aaron secretly adopted her from a pet store north of Boston. For the next five days, he took care of her, waiting until that moment when he’d give her to me as one of the best and most unexpected surprises.

She stirred up new feelings in me. I call her my kitten baby, but know I don’t know a thing about what it is to be the mother of a child. Yet caring for this little creature moved something in my heart.

For the first few months of her life, I was terrified that she would somehow accidentally kill herself. She was just so tiny. She didn’t know that refrigerators are not fun places to hang out or that power cords don’t make a tasty snack. I feared the day when she could make the jump to the oven.

Fear was not the right response, and it seems a little silly as I look at her now. She’s big and still tries to eat push pins. Yet fear is not how I want to react to her or to my future children.

Love is the easy answer for how I want to react, but love is so complicated. It comprises hope and devotion and the knowledge that your life will never be the same. When confronted with these emotions, it’s easy to respond in fear. A part of my heart has been stripped bare, and I’m not always sure how to deal with that feeling.

The opposite of fear is trust. It’s not always an emotion that comes easily. Yet I’ve learned to trust Hobbes. Trust is one of the bravest emotions, because it means letting go.

On her first birthday, it’s slightly morbid to consider her eventual death. I certainly didn’t think about that when my family first adopted Checkers. Yet I know things now that I didn’t know when I was a little girl with her first cat, and that is although this pet that I love so dearly will someday go to kitty heaven, what she teaches me while she’s on earth is so much more important than that heartbreak. The love and lessons that Hobbes has already given me make these heart-rending emotions worth every minute.

So happy birthday, dear kitten baby, and here’s to all the years you will move me to trust.

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