Home seems to be a recurring theme these days on my site but I guess it’s the nature of the business here. I’m going to make a somewhat informed guess and say that most of us have said at some stage or at many stages in our lives: I just want to go home. HOME! And for a suspended magical second – home is possible, home is perfect and home will make everything right again. Most homes are and were far from perfect but it’s our inner child within us who still wants to run home. It’s House on the Praire or Highway to Heaven: it’s escaping reality. Even in its most chaotic or broken – home is still home and for those of us lucky enough to have a constant loving home – home is an arm of love constantly reaching out, ready to catch us when we fall.
This week I moved some rescue cats into the sanctuary. They were being taken from a live-in situation in a town house with a catio to a small farm busy with different animals. So we decided to build them a home away from home here. Familiar beds and blankets were dotted here and there and I would stay with them the first few nights. From the minute they arrived and the cat boxes opened there were cries for home; the diverse climbers and toys were ignored and a collective grief was formed. I knew there would be an initial settling in period but nothing prepared me for their sadness. Cats are very attached to their territory and I had removed them from familiarity. This was not home. Being an empath can be a blessing and a curse: I was consumed with guilt which was reenforced by their baby-like pleas. I felt all their sadness at once. It made me think of pets dumped in the dark of the night: how desperately upsetting and frightening it must be for them.
In the last few days we lost one of our latest rescues. A 17 hand mare who looked like she stepped out of a fairytale book. But her life was far from a fairytale. I guess animals are dependant on their owner who dictates and writes their story. Her owner didn’t spend long on hers. He was the villain and she was his money-maker. And as rescuers you are akin to an editor who can get lucky enough to rewrite a villainous script. You get to change the ending with the help of diverse characters all wanting the same: for a mare let down so badly to go to a proper home. Rescuers don’t think about the costs of change or healing – there is a new narrative to work on, a life to be saved and a happy-ever-after to complete. And when you are busy planning and happy for her, the phone rings and the pen in your mind drops like a knife into your heart. The equine hospital can’t save her and they ring the sanctuary for permission to end her suffering – a man-made one. But what about the home waiting for her?What about what was meant to be? And so you swing from sadness to anger in seconds and back again until you accept. You accept that Ali is home in another way. Home should be free of pain and suffering and she is there now. As hard as it is for us that cared deeply for her and washed and bandaged her wounds and helped her with her pain, our upset is eased by what could have been if we had not been told about her. We made her pain less; we cared for her as if she was our own and we were part of her last journey to her final home. It never gets easy and the day it does is the day it has changed you. Home is a comforting word when I think of Ali as I write this.
So, what about us and our search (sometimes) for home when when we are in one. What do we do when the one we crave for is no more or maybe never was. When you have animals in your life, you are really their home. Where ever you are, they are home. I guess we can try learn from this. Home is within us all. And if that is the case, it’s important to make ourselves resilient, content, and work on that ‘happy with ourselves’ life module that we can ace or fail depending on us. The good thing is we can keep repeating the learning until we simply love ourselves and the lesson is over.
Yes, just like the cats who cry to go home – it’s allowing ourselves to acknowledge that upset and explore what it is about ‘home’ we crave that is actually within ourselves. Home is where the heart is and yours is beating right now.