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Shannon Brady

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Two cats are about to test my strength

Our kittiesNot my physical strength. Neither kitty weighs more than a heavy bag of groceries. But emotionally, I’m about to face the music – or in this case, the meows and purring. Until moving east with my now husband three years ago, I always had a pet. A big, goofy standard poodle, a snuggly black and white kitty who bore her green eyes into mine every time I dared leave her alone.

Since volunteering at Main Line Animal Rescue, I’ve had ample time to fall in love with dogs and kitties of all sizes and dispositions, but kept telling myself ‘later’, justifying my twice-weekly volunteering time as enough to satisfy my need for some furry companionship.

But after peeling back a few layers of emotions I realized I was resisting owning a pet because it meant facing the inevitable memories about to burst forth: my Bentley’s poofy ears offering a place to bury my tears as I weathered a very sad divorce process; Maumbo’s soft meows and nudges as I tried in futile to figure out how to redirect a career trajectory and love relationship that had gone completely sideways with no chance of getting back on course.

My pets could see it all. Feel it all. They knew, without any explanation, what I was robbing myself of, where I was holding back, and what I needed from them in any given moment. That kind of honesty, while extraordinary, is a little scary. During those latter days of my 30s living in Seattle, I grew adept at masking my pain, insecurities, and fear through presenting a poised, impeccably groomed and in control persona to the professional and social circles I ran with at that time in my life. But alone, in Maumbo and Bentley’s presence, I dropped the masks. Surrendered to what was real for me, what needed to change, and how I had to take the first, frightening step toward a brighter future.

So after to sitting on the bench at the rescue’s kitty room recently with my sweet man, I knew I had the strength to face past memories of the special pets who kept me true to myself. Knew, as Abbott and Serafina climbed onto our laps that we’d be creating many special memories together just as soon as they arrive in our home a few weeks from now.

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