What Mr Darcy Taught Me About Love

Mr Darcy went missing almost 3 years ago. He came and went as he pleased, with very little interference from us, but he also stuck to his routines. He loved three things best, his kibble bowl, outside, and me-possibly in that order. So when I woke up on a chilly morning, and he hadn’t come to warm his ears and paws under my blankets during the night, I knew he was gone.

We used to sit around sometimes, and wonder why we loved that darn cat. Because he did very little to deserve or earn our affection. Not like Roscoe for sure, who watched my face to make sure that he’s doing it right, and adored nearly everyone with two legs. Darcy Meow was ornery, spending most of his time outside hunting, and the afternoon laying wiped out on the dog’s bed, too tired to chase the mice in the kitchen. When the darn cat broke his hip, we spent two thousand dollars on surgery for this humane society cat, for no other reason than that he was ours.

Post surgery, we had to decide if we would continue to allow Mr D to saunter in and out through his cat door, knowing that we ran the risk of losing him. Or, keep him inside, and safe. Here then was the dilemma. On one hand, we could guarantee safety in the confines of our home, but to do so, Darcy would have to lose part of himself. We would have to force a barn cat who lived for exploring and adventures, hunting wild mice and chasing squirrels, who was born wild, and only barely tame because he loved us, to become what we wanted him to be. We knew if we tried to keep him inside, he would wither into a shell of who he was meant to be and we would have what we wanted, but he would suffer for it. In the end, we decided to love him on his terms. We decided to accept who he was and recognize what caused him to be fully alive, and love him for as long as he kept showing up. And then one day, he didn’t.

It didn’t make the loss easier, this choice of loving with open hands. Roscoe sat at the front door for two weeks and licked a hole in his leg, looking for Little Brother. The huge German Shepherd, whose prey drive was tamed by a two pound, spunky, confident scrap of kitten, mourned. We searched everywhere, calling and hoping for Darcy to come running as usual, with his fat swinging to and fro. We looked in ditches and culverts and bushes. Roscoe who heard the frequent command -“Go Find Little Brother”, followed the scent to a drain pipe where the mud was criss-crossed with raccoon prints. A neighbor came over to say that he had seen Mr Darcy chasing a baby raccoon the night before.

I started this post two weeks after Darcy disappeared. Three years later, I’m finally finishing, but the truth is that this ornery cat taught me something about love. He taught me that loving with my hands and heart wide open, means giving up some control, and the seduction of safety. He taught me to recognize and embrace who he was created to be, without forcing him into a mold of what I wanted him to be. He taught me that sometimes love means letting go and waiting, to be a safe place to land, and a home to return to. I found out that loving for a short time or a very long time, was still worth the risk, and the loss. Happy hunting grounds, Mr Darcy.

 

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