As we approach Thanksgiving Day once again—the national gateway to holiday madness and family food fights over football and politics—I’m especially thankful for all of the many animals that have blessed my life, domesticated and wild. (I ask forgiveness from the turkeys about to make the ultimate sacrifice for our short-lived satisfaction.) The reason that animals are on my mind is that I recently rescued a kitten that somehow got separated from its mother and possible litter.
The kitten—an orange and white ball of fur about ten inches long and weighing one pound—was discovered at the edge of the parking lot of my church by the priest and a parishioner, where it was foaming at the mouth. Understandably, this led them to approach it with caution, in case it had rabies. It was near sunset on a blustery October day, and multiple calls to various agencies had produced no response. When they had to leave, I was left alone with the kitten, trying to figure out what to do.
By that time, the kitten was no longer foaming at the mouth and was curled up in a ball on the grass. I rigged up a crude shelter for it and gave it food. But when I saw how eagerly it ate, and how it looked at me and tried to follow me, I contacted my veterinary clinic, and they told me if I could bring it in, and somebody would cover the costs, they could take care of it. I found a plastic box with air holes and sure enough, true to feline form, it was curious and went inside. I snapped on the lid and walked down the road to the clinic, ignoring the faint meows of protest.
The story has a happy ending: the kitten didn’t have rabies, recovered nicely from whatever was wrong with it, has been adopted, and is doing well.
So, as to thankfulness: I’m thankful someone found the kitten. I’m thankful I listened to my instincts that she wasn’t dying, and gave her a chance at life. And I’m thankful for my own cat, and all of the other cats, dogs, horses and assorted creatures that have graced my life. And I wonder if those of us in recovery don’t sometimes feel like that kitten—lost, abandoned, maybe betrayed by someone who couldn’t take care of us; at the bottom of the heap. If so, the gratitude and love of an animal—pure, simple, and uncomplicated—might be even more important for us
than for others, whose lives have been less tangled. If we follow the thread of that love back to a similar place in ourselves, everyone wins. Because it means we’ve found the value that fills the emptiness that led to addiction.
Wishing us all a Thanksgiving filled with what really matters.