Saturday early morning, coming back from a trip to the grocery store, I came upon a cat who had clearly lost her way--wandering bewildered around a usually busy intersection, stepping in deep rain puddles, unable apparently to find a curb, ANY curb.
The rain was coming down in torrents, as it had all week, and at every turn there was a seething puddle inches deep. In fact, the intersection had flooded and was resembling Canyon River Rapids at Hershey Park!
I pulled the car over, got out and stood in the intersection to try to corral the cat, and direct traffic around her.
After being bitten plenty of times by wandering cats and dogs, I wasn't about to pick up this sodden little creature, but when I got close, I realized it was blind and very, very old. Like 150 years old in human age.
A few cars came through the intersection honking their horn (yuh, thanks), confirming that the cat was also deaf.
Another woman stopped and began looking for a towel to wrap the cat in, while a third car pulled over, its occupants coming over to see if they could assist.
Meanwhile, the animal sat in the middle of the intersection, then got up to try again. But by this time, it was clear the poor thing was utterly disoriented and exhausted, and getting REALLY wet to the bone, which brought into relief its boney, old age cat skeleton. At one point, her back legs gave out, but she just kept trying to find a place that wasn't completely wet.
Somehow, we managed to get the cat up to the curb, though none of us was willing to pick her up.
I was about to go to the nearest home to ask if they knew whose animal it might be, when a guy came out on the porch of the house on the corner, still in PJs and said, "That's my cat."
And then he just stood there.
We said, "Well, we didn't pick her up because we didn't know if she was sick or not." By now the cat was wandering down the sidewalk, away from home.
The guy said, "Ummm, could you pick her up and give her to me."
We looked at one another, those of us who had just spent 10 drenching minutes trying to get the cat to safety, and kind of shrugged.
I picked her up, a feather weight, and took her up to the porch.
The owner mumbled something like "thanks", and return to the house.
I called, "You know, she's soaked to the bone...." (Duh).
And we stood on the sidewalk for a moment, wondering if the cat was better off in the rain or with her caretaker, and then we all parted, to get on with the rest of a busy Saturday.
And later I thought, how many times in my life have I felt exactly like that cat? And those who stopped to assist, how many times in their lives had they too felt exactly like that cat?
Maybe hundreds. Maybe thousands. And here we still are. Have we found the curb yet? Do we even want to find the curb? What happens without the curb?
Please, if you find me wandering in this manner, don't necessarily lead me to the curb, but find the fastest part of the river, and let me go. I'm learning how to float.