A Hollow In The Heart
Updated: Feb 8, 2023
“And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?" (NAB, Jonah 4:11)
I remember the first time I read the above quote. I was walking on a treadmill at an athletic club in San Diego and reading the Bible to keep my mind off how much I detested exercising. That the Lord loved all his creation, even the cattle (as some translations have it), struck me deeply. Of course, it made sense, I’d just never thought of God loving cattle or cats or dogs before. I have reflected on that scripture verse in many different ways over the last twenty years. But never so much as in the previous few months. Now I think of it daily as I prepare to say goodbye to my beloved pet cat, Zorra.
Such things are difficult for me, and as many pet owners will confess, saying goodbye is the worst part of incorporating a beloved pet into the family. I still remember the pain of holding my little Bichon Frise as the vet euthanized her several years ago. My husband is so much better than I am at such things.
... many pet owners will confess, saying goodbye is the worst part of incorporating a beloved pet into the family.
“Comorbidity” is what the vet said yesterday as I wondered aloud how my “sweet, little girl” could be so thin. I am pumping enough calories in her for the ten-pound cat she used to be for several months.
Soon I will queue up another installment of the feeding process. She will knowingly whimper as I find her in one of many rotating hideouts around the house, announcing that it is “that time again, baby girl.” Her angora-like coat will brush softly against my face as I pick her up gently and head into the kitchen for the inevitable. Although hating the process, she never puts up a fight and allows it.
I will fasten a bib around her neck and cradle her back and head as if she were an infant. She will relax into my lap and arms, her large, round blue eyes searching mine and radiating complete trust. The only sign of her protest is the back-and-forth swishing of her tail. Unlike her litter-mate brother, Punkin, who demands physical contact routinely, Zorra has always preferred to be my constant shadow rather than desiring cuddling. But things are different now.
As the feeding begins, I pray for those not syringe feeding a cat but a person—perhaps a beloved child or parent, who now depends on them. Love carves a hollow in the heart, home to joy, sacrifice, and the pain of goodbyes. The Cross has taught us that, even in our love for our furry best friends.
Love carves a hollow in the heart, home to joy, sacrifice, and the pain of goodbyes. The Cross has taught us that, even in our love for our furry best friends.
Denise-Marie Martin is the author of Tangled Violets: A Novel of Redemption.