Tough cookie | mb.com.ph | Philippine News
Home  » Lifestyle

Tough cookie

The story about how I adopted a kitten and how I learned love and acceptance the hard way

t

It was a Saturday. I woke up to the incessant meows of a kitten coming from outside. As I was walking down the staircase, the meows became louder. My mom caught my eye then, with that iconic smile plastered on her face. “There’s a kitten in the garage!” she beamed. She found it alone at the market, and took it home out of pity.

It was so small, about the size of my fist. It was shaking, too thin and weak to walk straight. For hours and hours she didn’t stop meowing that it made me wonder how something so small could tirelessly scream so loud.

“Okay,” I thought. “I’m going to take care of you.” But somehow, I felt my heart wasn’t really that into it. Maybe because I didn’t trust myself enough to take care of it; to know that it wouldn’t die in my care.

I went to bed that night without any expectation that she’d be alive for long.

I asked my mom if the kitten was still alive first thing the next morning. While I waited for her response, I was surprised to sense fear within myself. Just yesterday, the kitten’s existence in my life all felt like a scary obligation, but now I’m dreading to hear that the kitten had died. My mom’s smile took all my worries away.

I filled a glass bottle with hot water, wrapped it in a clean rug ,and put it beside the kitten. She immediately fell asleep, and that’s when I knew what she was looking for all this time—warmth. That day, I realized I could take care of this kitten. That I now trusted myself, not because I knew I could, but because I wanted to.

In the next few days, she walked more and more, had a large appetite, and wasn’t crying as much. One afternoon, though, I noticed how alarmingly big her tummy got. Hours later, I saw that she expelled some parasites. I was worried, but also very proud because I saw it as a sign that she was also fighting. Her body, as small as it was, was doing everything to keep itself alive. The day before, I accepted her, and now she was accepting me. She was accepting life.

As I administered deworming medicine on her, I realized I still hadn’t given her a name, and promised I would once she got strong.

A storm came that night so I put an umbrella on top of her box. But other than that, she was fine and active. I wanted to name her Cookie. Because that’s what she was—a tough cookie.

Everything was fine, that’s why I was surprised when, one morning, she couldn’t get up. I picked her up, and was surprised by how cold she was. That was only when I really noticed how fragile she was, that if someone was heartless enough to crush her with their bare hands, they could. Her breathing was labored, and I couldn’t bear to watch so I went back inside and forced myself to work.t1

She died that afternoon. They say our hearts are about the size of our fists and that was how small she was. What a cruel coincidence! I thought, because even though she was so tiny, she was big enough to fill my heart.

I still wonder why I was given the chance to meet that kitten, only to have it taken away from me. It all seemed like wasted effort. But for one thing, I learned that hope was tricky, but acceptance was the balm that would soothe the wounds it left. The moment I accepted the kitten’s death was the moment I stopped blaming myself for getting my hopes too high.

I learned that having a love that was lost wasn’t that bad, if it meant we would get to know ourselves better. We are scared of having the things we love because we think we might mess them up, because while there’s a chance that we’ll have them forever, there’s also an equal chance that we might lose them—in the same unexpected way we got them. But I also learned how stupid that notion was. Love doesn’t demand that the other loves you back, or to stay forever. It simply means you do, no matter what the outcome may be, and going in blindly is the only way to go.