A few days ago I was out with the Mush Puppies and a lovely gentleman exclaimed, “You’ve got it made!” as we skied by him. And honestly, at the time I wasn’t in a very good mood. Not in any kind of mood to appreciate how made I had it.
Almost seventeen years ago, my almost-husband and I were looking for a kitten. In fact, we were at the local shelter and I had already picked one out when I walked by a young girl who was having trouble getting a cage door open to put the kitten she had been looking at back inside. I told her I would hold him for a minute, and when she handed him to me he immediately curled up and started purring like a freight train. How differently my day would have ended if I had offered to open the cage door for her instead of holding the kitten; as it was, I went home with two kittens instead of one. And I knew that he would break my heart someday because they all break our hearts someday. But I knew it in a far off, detached way because my heart hadn’t been broken in awhile and I’d almost forgotten, and anyway it wasn’t going to happen today or tomorrow or the day after or even the day after that.
And then one day, someday arrives and slaps you right in your face and you remember that your heart is going to break, because the kitten that became the sweetest old man of a cat, your Julius, the very King O’ the Cats, will leave you soon and there’s nothing you can do about it but love him and fill his days and nights with comfort until he needs you to make a choice. For now, he’s doing ok, but I don’t think it will be much longer.
So it’s been hard, some days, to drag myself and the weight of these feelings out of bed to get the dogs out. Some days I don’t make it. Some days it’s really just going through the motions. And then one day, a lovely stranger reminds me with an offhand comment of why we keep going back for another ride on the emotional rollercoaster when every time we do we get our hearts broken over and over again: Because we have it made. They come into our lives and they fill our hearts up with hundreds and thousands of beautiful moments before they leave us again, moments that cling to the shards of our broken hearts and knit them back together again… somehow leaving our hearts bigger than they were before we knew them.
So I was thinking these thoughts as we went on our way. I was remembering that despite my imminent loss I do, in fact, have it made: I get to spend my mornings skiing out in the fresh, crisp air with my heart-filling Mush Puppies and my evenings getting my lap warmed by the heart-filling King O’ Cats. And while I was busy thinking, we flushed some deer in the woods alongside the trail and my puppies took me for a ride. Thinking ended and I just let them run and rode behind them laughing and I had it made.
And when their somedays come, as they must (but not today, or tomorrow, or the day after that), I’ll be riding that rollercoaster with each of them. I’ll be with them until the very end, and my heart will break.
And then I’ll go back for more.