Dear Tessa: Kitten Rescue

Dear Tessa, 

We need to play catch-up.  But first let me tell you a little story…  

We got four new farm kittens on Sunday from friends a short distance from us.  It seemed like an appropriate decision to help with mice and other rodents out here in the country.   

Since we have had these cats, you and your sister have been obsessed.  That’s probably an understatement. But it’s rather adorable, really. 

I mean, come on.  Look at you guys! The kittens may not be enjoying your overzealous hugs and forceful drinks at the water dish, but I think they are starting to come around to your kind of love. 

I talked a big game about what their role as farm cats would be here.  But I am a sucker for adorable animals, and I crumbled as soon as I found one of them this afternoon in a very poor state. Shaking, unable to walk and lethargic, etc…this poor cat was not well. 

Oh my dear Lord…we have only had them for a mere three days…how did we manage this already?  How are we such terrible cat owners right out of the gate?! 

I called your dad, who found my level of concern quite amusing.  He clearly was going to be of little help, and I wanted to save this dang kitten.  Or at the very least, give it a good effort.

But here’s the thing…I know very little about what it takes to save cats–or any animal for that matter.  It was well after normal vet hours, and I knew that convincing your dad to let me take it to the vet tomorrow was more than likely not going to be an option.  (You bet I’m throwing that blame on him.)

I found myself doing what I do best and hitting up Google. My Google search history is outrageous and this only adds to its craziness.  I even went as far as entering its symptoms into a petMD website.  Unbelievable.

There I was on the porch, limp kitten laying on my lap, syringe feeding it chicken broth two different times in hopes to get some fluids moving.  It wasn’t looking good for Jack, who used to be Penny.  (I’m sure you can piece that puzzle together). 

Next thing I know, I’m calling my brother and then your Grandpa to get advice. Somehow I end up at Farm and Fleet at 7:30 p.m. to buy a vaccine, which worked out well because the chickens desperately needed feed.  At this point, I’m all-in on this rescue and I have made it my mission to get this cat through the night.  Come on Jack!  

Now I have an incredible fear of needles, and the vaccine needed to be administered in the nape of its neck.  Ok, I can do this. I’m committed, right?  Nope.  I poked it too many times without success and, thankfully, your dad intervened to get the job done. I’ll admit I probably would not make a great vet or nurse or anything of that nature. What started out as a desperate attempt to save this kitten to spare you and your sister the heartache of losing a pet and sparing me the unfortunate task of teaching you about pet death, turned into a personal quest for me to keep this fella kicking so I wouldn’t be sad.  You and your sister didn’t seem to be all that shook up about it.  Figures. 

At this point, I have no idea what’s really wrong with Jack.  I’m just hoping the antibiotic does the trick.  If he lives through this, I’m changing his name to Lucky.  And if he lives long into adulthood, you’re welcome.  

Also…we are not getting anymore animals/pets.  My wimpy heart can’t handle the whole natural selection, circle-of-life business that comes with animals.  

We will catch up next letter.  For now I have to go check on Jack. 

Love, Mom. 

Random Reflections

It has been a wild last few months from moving to a new place in the country, a school change for Tessa, juggling the weight of our workload, traveling and making necessary lifestyle changes. All of which contribute to this transitional phase in our lives right now.  Some days are better than others.

But at the end of every day, my heart is full and my faith is constantly restored. It feels good to find contentment in change…finally.  After a long period of heartache and chaos that came into our lives without warning, I am certain that this adjustment was the right move for our family.


We are healing and growing from our life experiences; gaining perspective along the way.  None of which happens in a day’s time.  And none of it happened immediately after we were no longer confined by a disease that held my daughter–and our family–captive.  In the process we face hardships and frustration and we learn hard lessons.  Recovery is a long process.  When treatment ends, it absolutely does not mean that it is entirely over.  We are never going to be free from this.  Never.  Every single day it remains with us…not because we choose it that way, but because that is just a part of it. This is something many people struggle to understand, and I would not expect that understanding either from another point of view had I not experienced it myself.


Where I once shook my fists at God, demanding an explanation, I now have peace; appreciating the road less traveled because it has opened our eyes to other things in life that we may have otherwise missed.  It also gave us the chance to really realize our dreams after all was said and done.  To have the opportunity to chase them down and live them out without justification.  It has not been easy. These dreams have been met with resistance on several ends, but I am learning to let it go.

We battle self-doubt, fear and all kinds of what-ifs; but we let it go.  When others use words or actions to try and reduce us, our achievements and even our happiness…we let it all go.  And you know what?  It is amazing how freeing it feels to do so.  To literally not give a damn about any of it; to stay solely focused on what we have going on and to know that nothing can break us down or hold us back.  Because I can’t control how, when or if negativity will approach us; but I can control how I react.  That is the mantra I roll with.

The best thing I do for myself is to spotlight my own dreams, not someone else’s; by living freely each day for myself and not in spite of anyone or anything else.  Life is incredibly short and extremely fragile, and it can change in an instant.  Knowing that, I cannot allow my energy to be exerted on things that only add unnecessary weight on my mind and heart.

We know where we have been and we know where we want to go.  Our feet are steadily planted in a path we are choosing to follow–for the first time in a very long time.  We are days away from the anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever–Tessa’s leukemia diagnosis.  The significance of this day is not lost on me.  I will struggle on that day and the days that surround it; I won’t even lie about that.

As we head into the season of giving and gratitude, this landmark occasion serves as a good reminder for me to pay attention to the present; to look past the trivial things and soak in all that is good and well; recalling how things could have been very different for her…and for us.

Give thanks.  Life is good.