We don't trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) these cats without knowing that one day the dread we each face will be realized. We know that each day we spend with these mesmerizing creatures could, at any time, be the last. We always hope it will never happen but we know.
Their lives are not always long by house cat standards yet some live extraordinary long lives by feral standards. And that makes us happy because it gives us more time. They make us happy as our relationships with them develop. A whistle, and four legs spring out of their hiding places as they recognize our signal or sound of our cars. Just a cat, just vermin, not worth anything - so, so very untrue. Love abounds between us and them and trust is a measure of success, especially when we have reached one and they respond to us so contrary to their nature. We each have those little heart flips when something new happens. Each achievement, each new level of trust, is as important to us (maybe more) than any milestone in the average person's life because we are doing the extraordinary - reaching the lost hearts and souls of those abandoned.
They aren't just cats. They are the special ones we have chosen to dedicate ourselves to. None of this comes lightly as we sacrifice in many ways, none of which we complain about, because that is our nature. It gives meaning to our lives. It is also what will make the difference one day when people finally understand what it is these crazy, insane people are doing. One day it will all make sense to them.
In the meantime, we celebrate our successes and look forward to each visit we make our special friends. Our hearts lift when they venture into new territory with us and finally break the barriers. We know we have made a difference and we know, without a doubt, that we matter. We know they love us and when they finally trust us, we know the bond is there. That is important. We have achieved something we never dreamed, in our early years, would matter so greatly to us. But it does. And then one day, the day we all know will come, the day it ends, our hearts break, our tears flow, and pieces of our soul remain with them as they make their way to their everlasting home. Their memories, their stories, their presence in our lives, is what makes us "not crazy" but rather compassionate in extraordinary ways.
Rest in peace my beautiful and handsome friend. I don't know why you were where you were or why I found you there or why it ever had to be in the first place. You gave me joy, love and trust and it changed me. It changed me greatly. I never wanted this day to come but it did and I will never forget you. I never touched you but I loved you and I know you loved me too, in your own way. Your eyes told me that every time we met for all the years I was lucky enough to be your person and caretaker. I can see that love shining brightly from your eyes in all of my pictures. You were a street cat by circumstance but no less important because of it. You mattered. You were important. And now you are gone but will always be in my heart!
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