Saturday, December 6, 2014

Compassion for a Stranger

I was in the lobby of a dental specialist the other day. Not just any dental specialist, but a feline dental specialist. My rescue cat, Heidi, and I were waiting for the vet to examine her mouth and determine how bad this periodontal disease really was. I was expecting the worst. The first consultation I had with another dental vet was bad...real bad. $4,000 bad. So I just sat quietly and waited.

The office was located in a building for a veterinarian specialty group. Dental, Cancer, whatever, it was a big building. I watched the dogs come and go to the other vet offices. Little dogs, big dogs, dogs dancing in circles, dogs with cones on their heads, itty bitty lap dogs and great big HUGE dogs. Heidi seemed to be the only cat until a woman sat down by me and put her carrier on the seat between us. She asked me if I had a sick kitty and I told her all we had were some dental problems....."and you"? My heart broke when she choked out the words that her 9 year old cat had kidney disease and had experienced some problems that morning. She tried desperately to speak but she was struggling so hard to keep the tears back that she couldn't. In that moment, I felt my own desperation as I grabbed her hand and held it tight. There were no more words as we held onto each others hand. Two strangers who knew nothing about each other except that we both loved cats. I could have known this woman my entire life for the compassion I felt, but I didn't even know her name. And then it was my Heidi's time to be examined. I gathered her carrier and waved a quick good-bye to the woman that had touched my heart so deeply.

This brief encounter was sad and heartbreaking, and I'll never forget it. Two strangers able to connect on a level so deep. An immediate, heartfelt connection. It was sad, it was beautiful. It reminded me how wonderful this life can be in spite of ourselves. I reached out to someone, and walked away feeling like she had given me a gift.