I had forgotten that newly spayed cats now have to wear enormous plastic shields for ten days after their operations. But when Q picked Noodle up from the vet, there she was in hers, looking like a limp but indignant Jane Austen character in her bonnet. He carried her to the car, where she lay in stolid misery.
Surely it would be safe to open the car door and carry some packages inside before returning to fetch a drugged Noodle. But no: at a speed impressive for someone with an abdomen full of stitches and a stiff wide bonnet that blocks all peripheral vision, she flew out of the open car door and through the hedge to a hiding place beneath the neighbor's porch. Q went in pursuit, but we all know what it is to pursue a cat, even a cat on drugs: you can never catch them. Soon she was down the driveway and under our own porch, where the cats go when they want to be alone. She needed time to figure out how to rid herself of her loathsome bonnet. And, four cold hours later, she appeared at the back door without it. Noodle: 1, Q: 0.
One hates to punish such resolute problem-solving; Q hates to take her back for another bonnet, but he must: she mustn't be allowed to worry her stitches, and I now see that this is a cat who could probably have successfully performed her own ovarectomy. I only wish we had the money to send Noodle to medical school.
I have wondered which of the cats would emerge as the interesting companion of our golden years now that Kate is gone. It's Noodle, if she didn't get a nasty infection during her post-surgical adventure. Determined, visionary -- I like that cat. Unwilling to accept defeat one moment before she must -- neither am I. Willing to bleed, if she must. Yup.
I'm not home. Q had to deal with Noodle's drama on his own. My children wondered if I should go on this trip, if I should stand and speak for an hour at a time just after being in the hospital again. I'll sit if I have to, I said. They wonder if I should carry a suitcase and a laptop on the train -- isn't the train hard? No, the train is easy. Someone else drives. I'll ask for help with my bags if I need it. They do not believe me, but they are mistaken. I will do what I have to do in order to do what I want to do.
And then? There will come a time when the iron of resoluteness no longer avails. Grace in defeat is much more demanding. It is not iron -- it is something lighter, but equally strong, strong in a new, more informed way. Light, maybe: piercing the iron of what it takes to defend hard-won gains, to win more territory, shining quietly but persistently on the secret strength that subsides into readiness to learn, once more, what new thing God might have in mind.