And The Horse Died Standing Up

The memory of saving a litter of kittens from the loss of their mother is now beginning to fade.

The morning their mother did not return from her nightly hunt, I knew something was wrong. I took off work - and got cat milk from the store. This is the mechanical element. You feed the kittens.

Eventually, they get to the point where they shove their face down in a platter of cat's milk and get everything all over the place, but they learn to get enough inside of them to survive. They stop wondering where their mother went.

But almost as important to them, it seemed - as eating - were the moments I and my children held them. This is the memory that is slowly beginning to disappear. I suppose I can remember six thirsty little kittens, their faces and paws covered in cat's milk. I can remember cleaning them, and making a place for them to sleep. But holding them, and feeling their warm soft fur against my skin - is now almost gone.

And strangely, what seems to persist - is the song that I used to sing to them while I was feeding them. The low song in whispers. And not the entire song comes back. Mostly, just one phrase.

They are grown now, effectively teenagers. Their bodies have grown out beyond kitten and they are at an awkward, playful stage - ready to take on real prey. Fast enough not to be caught by the coyote that took their mom. But still looking for their first kill. Their first bird, or squirrel, or mouse.

And surprisingly, they all have really different personalities. I've given away three of them, and kept three. And all three have completely different ways of being. One would think that brothers and sisters should behave alike - but they really don't. The one kitten whose pattern closely matched her mother, behaves alot like her. But the other kittens behave in really unpredictable ways. We have the pouncer. The purr-engine. And the dark shadow at your right hand.

But for some reason, when I think back to the fuzzy memory of taking off work, and nursing them - I seem to recall , more than anything - a part of a song by Iron and Wine. I guess it's ok. Maybe not every memory was meant to be preserved. The litter box concept took them two or three passes to get right. I don't need to remember that. :)