Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Saddest Happiness

Remember the evil character "IT" in the classic children's book A Wrinkle in Time? Apparently IT liked to call ITself "the happiest sadist," and "sadist" was actually pronounced "saddest," not "say-dist," the way I and  everyone I knew had always pronounced it.

Happiest. Saddest. They're both pretty good words to describe how we at Miri's House feel every time a foster cat or kitten gets adopted. Whether we've fostered these animals for months or only for a little while, it's impossible not to grow attached to them.

The kittens are the hardest to say goodbye to. For a few weeks or a few months, these little fuzzy ones were part of our lives. We watched them grow, sometimes from the very moment of their birth. We held them when they were so tiny they fit into the palm of a hand. We saw them open their eyes for the first time, take their first wobbly kitten steps, jump feet first into dishes of kitten food in their first messy but enthusiastic attempts at eating. We watched them climb into slippers and use them as little boats to sail across the floor. We saw them grow from helpless, squealing babies who cried if they were taken from Mama's side to fierce, furry adventurers who raced, wrestled, climbed, and leaped their way into our hearts.

And then, into someone else's.

Because that's what it means to foster. We feed and brush and pet and play with and nurture and love these kittens so they will have every chance in the world to grow up to be healthy, playful, and loving cats. And then we send them out in the world, and hope that the people we send them home with will love and treasure them for the rest of their long and happy lives.

So when they leave for their forever homes, tucked into a cat carrier with their excited new families gathered around them, we smile and wave goodbye and wish them well, knowing that we've saved one  life and enriched many more.

So we're happy.

But I can't say we don't miss them. And I can't say that when we run across a fishie toy forgotten in a corner of the closet, or a long-missing slipper somehow pushed way under the bed, we don't cry.

--Posted by Kate, 9/10/13

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