Hope in Yoda
“Love saves us, it does.
Hope heals us, it will.” – Yoda
I’d like to tell y’all a little story. I heard this sweet tale the other day while I was driving home from dropping off the kiddos at school. Us parents know, one of the best parts about saying that last morning good-bye before having the car totally back to ourselves is the regaining control of the radio. And for me, that means one thing. Howard. Stern.
For those of you who may not listen to his radio show, Howard and his wife, Beth, are huge animal lovers. Beth has dedicated a huge part of her life to cat rescue and has saved hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent felines. Because Howard loves Beth and because Beth loves cats, Howard has also become a huge cat lover and has fully supported the rescue efforts. It’s true, I’m more of a dog person but, as this story will tell, an animal’s love is just that- an animal’s love- and sometimes that love transcends what we thought we knew.
The story goes a little something like this… (I will try to retell this story accurately but if some details are a little off, the overall tale and message remain the same).
Howard told his audience the story of his cat named, Yoda. A few years back, Beth found Yoda in an animal shelter. Having been dumped by people who could no longer care for him, this Persian cat was emaciated and unwell. Yoda watched as all the other cats got adopted but he never did. His medical problems were too severe. Then, one day, a nice lady named Beth came to take him home.
Concerned about Yoda’s medical issues, Beth and Howard took this sad cat to the vet. They were told Yoda had four months to live. They were told there was nothing they could do. They were told there was no hope.
Beth and Howard brought Yoda home from the vet and decided to adopt him so they could ensure the best possible last four months of this sweet cat’s life. So, Yoda became a Stern. But Yoda was still not happy.
Beth and Howard worried about Yoda. They tried to get him to eat. They tried to get him to play. They tried to get him to love. But Yoda did none of those things. And his time was running out.
Then, one day, Beth brought home four foster kittens. These kittens were young and tiny and scared. Yoda discovered these kittens and suddenly, Yoda changed. This unhappy Persian cat took on the role of Papa Cat to the four scared kittens. Yoda began caring for them and began protecting them and began loving them.
After Yoda became Papa Cat, Yoda began to eat and play…and love. Yoda put on some much-needed weight and his coat became thick and shiny. Three months passed, then four, then five. A hopeful Howard and Beth took Yoda back to the vet and the vet was speechless. The vet could not find one thing wrong with Yoda.
Howard tells his audience that love healed Yoda. It was their love and the vet’s love…and the kitten’s love. Yoda had never felt love, had never known what it was to have a full heart. But then Yoda felt it. And then, Yoda didn’t want to let it go. So, Yoda stayed. And today, years later, Yoda is still alive and living with a heart full of love.
Riley Rose was my soul mate dog. He healed me and I healed him. We couldn’t have made it through our most difficult times without the love we had for one another- of that I am certain. Because no matter how strong the human love is that we have surrounding us, it’s that love of an animal that fills in the cracks and fills our hearts with that unconditional, unquestionable, loyal love. And that’s the love that heals.
Yoda’s story is powerful. Riley Rose’s story is magical. And then there is Buddy….
Last year, I wrote about my friend who had lost her brother to cancer. This brave man fought and fought and fought but, ultimately, his cancer was too strong of an opponent. This of course wrecked my friend and made us all question hope. A bit of time has now passed but does it ever get easier? Even for the most accepting of siblings, I doubt it ever does. And I have wondered if any remaining wounds are ever able to be healed.
The other day, I got a text from my friend. And for the first time, in a long time, it had a joyful tone. Her text sounded happy, and excited, and hopeful. And it was because my friend and her husband and kids were getting a puppy.
His name is Buddy and he is perfect. He is an eight-week-old yellow lab with big paws and droopy ears. My friend sent me a picture of this puppy and then she sent me a picture of herself holding her new little animal companion. And in this picture, my friend is smiling. She is grinning ear to ear as she cradles Buddy in her arms. Her children are on either side of their mom, both trying to get a hand touching their new dog. But that smile. My friend is smiling. My friend is happy. And I think, for the first time in a long time, my friend is once again hopeful.
The love that travels between animals and humans is a two-lane street. To me, it doesn’t really matter where the love originates because it’s going to be returned to the sender in spades. Love heals. Animals heal. And, even when we didn’t think it was possible, humans heal.
Even if the healing is just over one of the many wounds we carry, that’s something. Even if the love is only enough to fill a part of a heart, that’s significant. And even if the hope is only held onto with a light untrusting grip, that’s enough. And if Yoda or Riley or Buddy can do that for any one of us, or if we can do it for any one of them, that’s everything.
Animals heal us. Hope carries us. And love saves us.
And, if you don’t believe me, just ask Yoda.
In love and hope,