now they're looking at you

now they’re looking at you


n our second visit to the animal clinic with Lemon the three-legged kitten, the veterinarian asked if whether or not Peaches’ pet was sensitive to touch in the area where her leg had been shortened by some mishap.

“A little bit I think,” Peaches answered promptly.

Outwardly, I nodded, furrowing my brow to indicate my thoughtful consideration of the eight-year-old’s clinical assessment of her pet’s condition. Inwardly, I cringed; I’d had no idea.

There is a reason I did not pursue a career in medicine. Describe some injury or wound or incident that would likely have ended up with someone punctured or broken and I have to start concentrating on my breathing so that it doesn’t run away from me. Let me assure you, I most certainly did not want to reach down to touch my baby’s crowning head during child birth.

I may be one of seven people in the country who has never been a fan of even one face of the hydra-headed CSI franchise.

I offer this to you as the lion’s share of my explanation for why I myself have never wanted to look too closely at the injury that had healed as much as it was going to when we adopted the kitten. Was that the end of a bone I could just make out at the end of that stump? Uh, who could know? Certainly not me, who planned—from the moment Peaches picked her out at the pound on—to steadfastly avert her gaze from the injured leg in question for as long as we owned the animal.

The vet nodded along with me after Peaches made her reply. She left the room with Lemon to consult with another one of the doctors to provide us with a second opinion. Upon her return, she was kind but clear: Lemon would likely have enjoyed greater mobility and ease of movement had a mid-femur amputation been performed at the clinic where she had been surrendered. The paperwork that we had brought into her office indicated that we had signed a medical release upon adopting the kitten (we had), but she believed we hadn’t been fully informed that additional surgical intervention would be in the animal’s best interests (we weren’t).

As I write this, our vet has called the clinic from which we adopted Lemon on several occasions. Those calls have yet to be returned. While we wait, I watch our six-month-old kitten make mischief and messes through a different lens now and I can see it, of course I can—the gate that is complicated rather than eased by the length of leg that she was left with after she was injured.

It is worth remembering the inestimable value in looking closely at a thing, even when it is uncomfortable, even when it makes you squirm, even if you allow yourself to set it aside once you have well and truly examined it. Because with just such snatches of quiet observation, healing and invention can begin.