12 February 2012

My Hairy Butt

I had originally intended to compile some last minute Grammy predictions, but then that became composing a post about the death of Whitney Houston. Then that was caught up in a Facebook discussion spurred by a fellow Crohnie's status update. It wasn't my thread or I would share it with you, Dear Reader. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter for the purpose of this post except to explain to you the impetus for this one. See, after most of the debating had already taken place (quite civilly, by Internet standards, I thought), some guy I have never even heard of before tonight chimed in with the following:
"TRAVIS YOU REALLY SHOULD STOP BREATHING YOUR PROFILE PIC IS WITH A CAT. SHOWS HOW CREEPY YOU ARE"
I'm big enough I can take an attack. I'm even able right now to handle the "STOP BREATHING" part, but I do want to take this moment to say to those who may be unfamiliar with my story that I fought suicidal depression for an entire year, leading me to being hospitalized in October. This guy had no way of knowing that, and I would like to think that if he had, he might have been a little more thoughtful about what he said. But then, that's the point; none of us ever know what anyone else is going through, or has gone through. I know some people who would have absolutely crumbled at those words and might have relapsed entirely into suicidal despair. To my Crohnie pal's credit, she very quickly admonished him and reiterated that even though she wasn't in agreement with all of us in that discussion that she had no tolerance for such attacks. I sincerely appreciate that she stepped in like that, and I would encourage each of you to be as bold as her should you encounter such behavior. You never know who might see your show of strength and not just appreciate it, but really, truly, need it.

Having said all that, the real topic I wish to address right now is actually the aforementioned profile pic, seen here:
I took that about a month ago. The cat in the image is Harriet ("Hairy Butt"), the third of our four rescued kitties. I confess that I initially resisted keeping her at all when my wife brought her inside after finding her in the back yard one day. It was too inhospitable outside to banish the poor thing, so I reluctantly allowed her to stay confined to the storage area until we could get her to a shelter. Except there was a problem.

Harriet had suffered severe abuse before coming to us. Her bottom teeth are busted. There's a gash on her throat and she doesn't have a very loud voice. She doesn't even mew; she barks. Worse still is that her front left leg is entirely, permanently mangled. Her shoulder blade is collapsed into her clavicle. The veterinarian told my wife that the injuries were consistent with other cats she had seen thrown from a moving car. I get angry just thinking about what Harriet endured and if there was any way at all that I could find out for sure what happened and who was responsible, I may very well discover that I'm not such a peaceful person after all.


Despite being a "No Kill" shelter, we could not get a guarantee of her safety should 90 days pass without her being adopted and we were further advised that it was very unlikely anyone would adopt a cat in her condition. Harriet joined our family. I'm glad she did, because she's got a very warm personality (despite the ever-present glare seen in my profile pic that's her default look). In fact, she's curled up in my lap as I type this, purring away and I haven't even pet her! She's a sweet girl, and it's amazing to me how friendly she is with people after what she was clearly subjected to by someone.
Incidentally, my wife named her for her childhood heroine, Harriet Tubman. Tubman, of course, is the famed conductor of the Underground Railroad who endured unimaginable hardship but committed herself to seeing a better world. She was a fighter, and refused to accept a life in bondage for herself or for others. If Harriet could join ASPCA, I'm sure she would and fight on behalf of all abused critters. It was my cousin who corrupted the name to "Hairy Butt" while we were watching Finding Nemo one afternoon (after the scene in which the fish mistakenly call a boat a "butt").
So in that one profile pic, you see a guy who almost killed himself and a cat severely abused. Neither of us should even be here still, I suppose, and yet we are. We're not unique. There are millions of people around the world who have been thisclose to ending their lives and I wouldn't even care to guess how many abused cats or other critters. We've persevered. All she wants is some loving and a warm lap. To be honest, I think that's really all I want at this point in life, too. Try to think about us when you encounter people who casually suggest others "stop breathing" and remember: your words can affect those around you in ways you may not even imagine. Be careful with them.

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