Gotcha, Ralph

It’s Ralph’s gotcha day on the 27th. Happy gotcha day, my sweet, complex little boy.

Last night, Brae and I watched you as you flopped on the carpet, breathing slowly, eyes closed in lazy respite, with an occasional eyelid flicker every time we shifted in our seats, stood up, or came close to you. 

You are a watchful, cautious, nervous boy, and we love you for it, not despite it.

You are nervous for good reason. We only know small details about your life before us, but they paint a picture. Your life on the streets. That red nose and that squinty eye in your adoption mugshot. You got sunburnt living on the streets. You got goopy eyes sleeping fitfully under cars and bushes.

The sound of revving cars still makes you jump. You love the outside just as much as it terrifies you. You groom yourself impeccably now, your eyes always bright, wide and clean.

We talked about what we had learned from you and made a list:

  1. You can’t rush certain things. You can’t rush trust. A feeling of safety. You can’t tell a tripped adrenaline to suddenly slow down. These are things you feel innately, in your gut, and they are not connected to reason. 
  2. Relationships never move in a straight line, from A to B, but they loop around, inch forwards and dart backwards, because progress is a journey. 
  3. It takes time and work to be the bigger person in an argument. It takes time to shut off the responses of fight and win. Perhaps real love is giving someone the time and love they need, to become the truest and safest version of themselves. 

You teach us much more than a malleable kitten ever could. You – with your anxious bright eyes, your sudden twitchiness, your sharpened claws and teeth – have lived a hundred lives before you entered ours. Everything we offer you is a careful consideration, a weighing of the pros and cons, rather than being gratefully accepted in an uncomplicated flurry of affection. 

But we see you soften and ease, ever so slightly, day by day. When you match my footfall up the stairs. When you burst into the shower cubicle to drink from the drain. When you groan with pleasure eating a freeze-dried salmon belly. When you bully your way onto the balcony, flop onto your back legs, and roll over and over, purring imperceptibly, soaking up the sunshine, the breeze, and the smells of life around you.

Happy gotcha day, Ralphy boy. May we work to create a life for you with little fear and much peace, always.