I used to meditate in the garden each morning, perched on a hill overlooking the meadow, while feral Dipa watched from the safety of a tree. After a month of mornings she jumped in my lap, and quickly down – up and down again. I kept my eyes closed and made no effort to touch as Dipa did her getting-acquainted dance. A wet nose against my cheek was her good-morning kiss. That became the ritual. Soon Dipa was the first to arrive.  Kathryn, my landlady, called her Amber, but I’d been thinking of a Buddhist teacher named Dipa Ma when the cat first kissed my face, so I gave her a name to reflect her moment of trust. That was four years ago.

This morning I settled at the table on the patio and reached for the computer mouse as a white pink substance began to drip on my hand. I turned and found the goo pouring from a gaping hole in the cat’s neck, drip dropping on the table in thick rivers of infection. The sight of it made me weak. My first thought was to find someone else, anyone else, to deal with it.

Dimas, the gentle-hearted gardener leaned on his shovel, shaking his head. “Not me,” he said, as I pointed out the problem.

I went to a man fixing pipes in the pump house. “Do you know what to do for cat wounds?” I asked. He barely looked up as he muscled a wrench around a connecting joint. “Nope.”

I was beginning to feel like the Little Red Hen from Isabella’s Russian folktale.

“Not I,” barked the lazy dog.

“Not I,” quacked the noisy yellow duck

I knocked on Kathryn‘s door, the cat’s official owner.

“The vet is closed today,” she replied,  “nothing I can do. Besides she won’t let me near her, she runs away.”

“Not I,” voiced the grey haired neighbor.

As if to prove a point, Kathryn moved toward Dipa who promptly ran away from everyone. I surrendered to responsibility against my will and came back to the computer, typing treating cat wounds in the Google window. Hydrogen peroxide and bandages were a solution I could manage. Dipa was sunbathing on the picnic table, safe and alone at the edge of the forest when I found her. I slowly placed bandages, gauze and hydrogen peroxide on the bench. The cat sat perfectly still as I cleaned and dressed the wound. Bandages filled quickly and were repeatedly changed. Finally, I stopped, no more I could do. After lathering my hands, I went back to work on the porch. Dipa abandoned her distant post, followed me up and began nudging my hand with her nose. I stroked her fur between sentences, “You’re going to be alright dear. You‘ll be fine.”

Kathryn pulled her car up, unpacking groceries from the trunk.

“Thank you for tending the cat. You’ve done all a vet could do. Now I’ll have to call you the cat whisperer. Really, Amber looks good.”

What irony, I thought. Kathryn was a doctor! A doctor! She actually liked nasty-body-blood pus-oozing infections. She’d been trained for it, spent years in school, while the sight of body secretions made me weak. I had to lie down, breathe deep and try not to vomit. And “I” was the one treating the cat, possibly the worst qualified person on the planet! What a sense of humor the universe has!

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