The other day my three-year-old cat who I found as a kitten in Nevada, back then the size and weight of a feather, developed an abscess above his left eye. It was from a cat fight no doubt. When I initially found him as a two-month-old, black soot poo exited his derriere and his fur was thick and chalky with desert particles.
Yesterday, once again, I was to care for him, dabbing his puss-y sore with warm salt water and cutting away the fur to see the yellow oozing honey-like substance. Usually waking me at the first sign of light, that day he stayed in his bed, his brow low, not moving. I was reminded of the day I found him and his sister outside the chicken coop of the ranch where I was staying. The two of them were stuck together to form a solid ball of fur like that Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles. She died after a day, but he got stronger. The first indication I had that we would survive was when he pawed me as I walked by him. He lay spread eagle in a sunbeam on the kitchen floor. "You're a fighter," I said.
There's something about caring for fragile things that makes me recognize the frailty in myself and the need to attend to myself as though caring for a wild, ailing animal.
We often don't realize something's wrong within us until we get sick or have a meltdown. Because we're taught for the most part to "keep calm and carry on" the layers of our fragileness get pushed down and we forget just how important it is to acknowledge them.
Mindful Writing Exercise
Write about the last time you cared for a fragile living thing. This can be a person or a plant or animal---anything living. How did giving of yourself in this way make you feel? List some ways that you can apply this level of care to yourself.