Things move around, life puts you in places you might not otherwise be and I think of wings a lot this time of year, of angels flying out of a cold nighttime sky, of silence and stars and candlelight, but I never think of myself as an angel, not even close, no wings on my back, and not even in a good mood much the last few weeks, but I admit to a softness in my heart that brings me to tears at unexpected beauty, at shadows searching for warmth as winter closes in, I admit to all that, and maybe that counts for something, or maybe the Universe or God or maybe even busy angels just need someone else to be somewhere at a certain time and maybe they pick you or me, knowing our true hearts as they do, knowing we'll know what to do.
This busy hard time of year sent me to the vet with Maggie yesterday, she just needing her daily fluids, nothing wrong, the ever-wonderful Michael just needing to be here, unable to leave, photographs needing to be delivered, so Maggie and I were off to the vet's together, she oddly quiet and calm, Christmas music on the stereo, so familiar to last fall's visits, gray skies overhead, rain threatening. As we made our last turn, a white SUV coming from the opposite direction turned onto the road before us, a woman driving, and I knew in my heart she also was headed for the vet's and something was wrong, I could feel it, I could sense her tightness, her hurry; as we parked she was fast out of her seat, around to the passenger side, grabbing a cat carrier and heading inside; my heart sank for her as I did exactly the same in a not-hurried way, walking around to the passenger side of the Jeep and picking up Maggie's carrier. Inside they were waiting for her and she handed them the carrier, then sank onto a red bench, turning inward - I could see it - turning small, as they hurried off to the back, she not even watching, looking at the floor, at the coffee table stacked with cat and dog magazines and old issues of Good Housekeeping, looking nowhere really but deep in her heart. I gave them Maggie, and though there was no one else in the waiting room, plenty of empty seats, I sat next to her. Soon an assistant was out, reassuring the woman, gathering more answers to more questions, then off again, and the woman became even tighter, fighting tears, and I, who had listened to the questions and answers, and realized the cat was diabetic, had had a bad reaction to his usual insulin shot, said to her I don't know you but you look like you need a hug and yes, she nodded, she did, and so we did, and we talked and we both cried a bit, and I asked her cat's name - Pepper, she said, and she told me where she lived - several miles away in a small community - and how she had flown through the streets to get there, and I remembered the time I, too, had done that very same thing, with Stella, the cat before Maggie, flown 30 miles on a Saturday evening in an old Nissan to get to the emergency vet's, how Stella had not come home with me, I was too late, how Maggie was born that very day; I thought all those things in the twinkle of a moment, and we talked some more and soon Maggie was ready to go home, and before I left, I gave the woman another hug, this stranger who said I have no children, he is like my child, and I knew, I knew, but I felt Pepper was going home with her, felt that he would be okay yesterday, felt that from things said by the assistant, and I hope I am right, that she didn't go home alone. I will ask Saturday when I take Maggie again.
When I talked to my mother later,
I asked her to include Pepper in her prayers,
and also the woman,
whose name I did not get.