He was a tiny furry shivering bundle brought to me by 3 friends in the cold darkness of a Winter’s Night. This little one had been found in the middle of a dark road all alone and left to die. Tears stained the faces of those who brought this little one to me signaling he’d already taken a piece of their hearts. I looked at this helpless kitten and immediately named him Hope.

Within an hour he and I were at the local vet office hoping for a good prognosis. He was obviously unable to move his back legs, he had a severe upper respiratory infection, dangerously low body temperature and a myriad of other maladies. But he was fighting — my how he was fighting. An x-ray showed no obvious breaks and the vet sent us home with an arsenal of medications.

At first I had to force-feed Hope which is normal for a cat with a severe upper respiratory infection — if they can’t smell their food they just don’t eat. But within 2 days, he was eating on his own — 3 cans of food a day. Hope was incontinent so I expressed his bladder and assisted him in other ways to keep him comfortable. In spite of all his “ailments”, Hope purred and meowed and kneaded the air when he heard or saw me.

I began searching online for any information I could find that would give me some look into Hope’s future life as a paralyzed cat and found groups of folks who had successfully transitioned paralyzed cats into lives that were full of love and contentment for both the human “parents” and the affected cats. I watched videos of these cats climbing and playing and enjoying life as their humans watched in pleased amazement.

I began to hold out hope that a video of this little one would someday be added to those that had encouraged me as I began my journey into yet another kitty adventure God has sent my way. Though others were already encouraging me to “let Hope go”, I was holding out hope that this little one would beat the odds.

Perhaps Hope’s story faintly echoed another so long ago that changed my life and heart forever: the diagnosis of my only full-term child, Richie, with a rare terminal disease that left him unable to walk, stand or do normal everyday baby things. Though doctors told me there was no hope and that I should take my young son home and enjoy the time we had left, I decided to fight hard and it was then I first realized that as long as there is life, a mother’s heart never loses hope. Even when specialists strongly suggested I put my son in a nursing home to make it easier for me I cared for Richie and hung onto hope.

I dug in and steeled myself to go the distance with my son but even though I had prayed that distance would be a marathon it turned out only to be a short sprint. A little less than a year later and after doing everything humanly possible for my son he died and, for a time, so did my hope. The darkness of my grief almost overwhelmed me but then, as time went on, slivers of hope forced their way into the cold dark shroud that encompassed my heart and soul and forced me to choose the path my life would take: should I settle for just being alive or should I really live? By finding the courage to have hope again I could honor my son’s life by living life to the fullest — by living for us both — by helping others find their hope again.

And so, as I looked into the eyes of my little furry Hope, I knew he, like my son, was here for only a short season to love and learn from. Though I wanted it to be otherwise, his time here was brief but just long enough to learn what God wanted me to feel and think and internalize and to share with others…

That no matter what, we must always hold out hope. Hope is what makes us get up every day and believe that all things are possible even in the midst of the most difficult times of our lives. And even when life seems to be so very unfair and things don’t turn out as we wanted them to it is this continued hope that helps us to truly live — not just be alive.

Holding out hope is never a waste of time or energy-neither is it foolish. It’s a God-given blessing to help us through this difficult, wonderful, painful, beautiful journey called life.

Copyright 2019

Jackie Deems

Originally published at wwwamazinggracefarmscom.blogspot.com on March 6, 2019.