In which Giles lives, and I am reminded, again, that I know nothing

gilesinhandTwo weeks ago, I wrote about an ailing kitten, one of a litter I’ve fostered since they were prematurely removed from their mother at the age of four weeks.

After a robust start, Giles, whom I considered the valedictorian of the group — a quick study with the litter box, confident and affectionate  — stalled.  For more than three weeks, while his siblings grew larger and more playful,  Giles sat wearily after eating, head down, eyes tired.  He did not play.  Failure to thrive, they call it, but naming is not explaining.

Drawing blood from the jugular of a 1.5-pound kitten is a dubious and potentially dangerous undertaking. So consultations with the vet amounted to highly educated guessing and dietary experimentation, none of which seemed to work.   As the days passed with no improvement, I felt sure he would die.  Until one night a week ago, when I offered the little man a food formulated for animals recovering from illness, injury or surgery.

Midway through my work shift the next morning,  the oppressive heaviness that had weighted my heart as Giles languished suddenly lifted.  In its place, a lightness, a distinct and strange optimism.  Something had shifted — I felt it — and a small, glad chorus arose within me, urging him on:  You can do it, Giles;  I know you can.  Go, Giles!  Go!

And he has:  In the last week, Giles has gained more than half a pound and begun playing again with his siblings,  though he still tires easily.  They’re bigger and heavier, and he has some catching up to do.  But he’s back in the game:

I can’t say why he turned around.  Maybe it was the food;  maybe he simply grew out of some physiological problem in the same way he grew into it.  Maybe he was helped by the loving energy and good wishes coming his way, some from people like you, some from friends I’d spoken to.

One of them is dead — Mike, whom I wrote about a couple months ago.  Mike is buried just up the hill in the town cemetery, and my sadness — at his death, in October, at Giles’ anticipated death, at a hundred indeterminate losses  — converged 10 days ago at the foot of his grave, too new yet to have a marker.runsignup

We miss you, I said.  We’re so sorry you’re gone.  And then I told him about Giles, and asked for any clarity or strength or support he could offer, knowing Mike was a helper in life, and feeling he wouldn’t mind being asked. Knowing, anyway, that it helped me to speak through him to whatever incorporeal goodness — whatever impalpable love — he is now part of.   To invoke our connection — mine and this small kitten’s — to the eternal mystery that transcends life and death.  It can be so lonely among the living.

Ten days later,  I am readying all four little cats — not just three — for neutering and placement in permanent homes.   I feel, acutely, the truth that nothing is certain.  That now is only now — that anything might happen to any of them in the aftertime,  as they enter their lives with other people.

But I am grateful to write this post,  in which Giles lives, and I am reminded, again, that I know nothing.











  1. how wonderful
    to embrace
    the miracle, Cate 🙂


    1. Indeed, David! Giles and brother Spike should be in their new home together soon. 🙂 Thanks for sharing in our happiness.


  2. Oh, relief! Giles has been in my thoughts to one degree or another since I read your first post. Thank you for hanging in with him. Any possibility he may become a foster fail? 😉


    1. Thanks for being one of the kind people who was sending Giles love; we appreciate you! And, no chance he will become a foster fail. But a wonderful co-worker of mine is very excited about adopting him and Spike, so I hope they’ll have a new loving mom soon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bravo Giles!! And You, it is in our unknowing that we find answers and we ourselves are found…I believe. Thank you for your inspirations. I look forward to them.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for this wise and gentle observation: “It is in our unknowing that we find answers and we ourselves are found.” Well put.


  4. Hooray! A lively little fellow. Welcome back! Mystery is fine with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And me, too. Thanks for the good wishes and for celebrating his little cat life, now continuing.


  5. In the hospital setting, I often wondered about failure to thrive and the factors behind it, that stalling that many of us may have known once or twice in our lifetimes. So glad you are here and willing to help tip the balance for these delicate souls. Love that word, aftertimes. In the aftertimes, they will remember your sweetness to them.


    1. What a lovely response; thank you. It feels good to know Giles and his siblings will go into the world of people having been loved by one of us and, I hope, about to be loved by many more.


  6. What happy news, Cate! I’ve been thinking about Giles. He’s lookin’ good there in the photo.


    1. I’ll pass along your compliments to him. 🙂 Thanks so much for the good thoughts; I have no doubt that the love and care being sent his way helped him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah I’m so pleased! I’ve been wondering how he was getting on.


    1. Thank you!


  8. Such good news! It was Mom’s votive candles. Just sayin’.


    1. I don’t doubt it. Thanks for lighting them, Amiga!

      Liked by 1 person

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