the things we keep

My first job out of university was at a veterinary hospital. On one level, I loved it. I’ve always loved animals and loved taking care of them. On another level, it was a total disaster. I was (and still am) a big softie and took home nearly all those that were given up. I even offered to pay out of my own pocket for the surgery of a hamster that had a cancerous tumour on this face. Working long hours but living with my parents then, our apartment turned into a zoo with my mum as the primary caretaker, doting on the animals, applying antibiotics, feeding medicines, and loving them all the same.

Long after I left that job, when the last of the animals died – our first cat and from cancer – I told myself I couldn’t have another cat again. I’ve had enough of sick and dying animals.

Helping out a friend last summer, one thing led to another and I find myself becoming a cat fosterer for a local rescue group. When the first two cats left, it was very upsetting. They’d been with me for three months and made all the difference when I went through a really shit period.

Then I was given a five-month old kitten. Smart, handsome, and full of life, it was the first kitten I’ve ever had. It was also because of those qualities that he was adopted very soon afterwards. When the call came from the people wanting to see him, my heart caught and I selfishly wanted to hang up and process the adoption for myself instead.

But of course they adored him and he eventually went the very lovely couple and I was very happy for him. I came home from work the next day and missed having the little bugger greet me at the door. Our little flat was once again a little emptier and quieter.

Looking back now, isn’t that just a reminder of how life is? We hold on to so much. To our possessions, to our relationships, to the people we love, but to what end? None of them will ever be ours forever. In the end, we will leave just as we’ve come: empty-handed.

So we love and we give and we cherish. We spend time with each other and laugh and play and cry. Just because we can’t own anything doesn’t mean we give up on everything. It just makes everything all the more precious. And once you realise that everything and everyone will one day go anyways, you hold on to less. You learn that letting go is just as natural as living life.

I’ve now got another two cats, and I totally adore them. This is also the first sickly foster cats I have, requiring vet visits, antibiotic tablets, and eye-drops. They’ve got yet another different set of personalities and bring a new focus into our lives.I know they will one day leave me as well. And that’s ok.


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