A long weekend, then a week-long holiday. One case, then another, with each one, a death threat.
If I knew where to find him; if I knew where he moved to. If only I knew whether he is still in practice, whether he is retired.
For many, he’s a nutcase. A weirdo veterinarian who does as he likes; the one to whom standards matter less.
For me, he is a combat veteran, a medic that goes to the frontline with all the bloodbath, the bombs, the lack of things, the constant challenge for improvisation, the will to do whatever it takes if life can be saved.
He sped up on his motorcycle when I found a teen cat with a prolapse dying on the roadside, drove to a quiet corner by an empty storehouse, and performed surgery on his motorbike.
He is crazy, but my world is just as nuts.
Then I heard he got a divorce and moved. I got his address, but when I went there, he’s gone. I lost track of him since, and life goes on.
If only I had him now. If only he sees this girl with a prolapse, and the mother cat whose tummy melted off, and the girl with the bulging eye, another one with rotten teeth, and this God damned holiday that sent people out with a vengeance, after a year-long COVID restriction.
I can care less if vets in the whole town will ban me. I will keep calling, and asking, and asking, and asking.
A vet I haven’t meet for a long time told me his new number, a vet whom I least expected to answer. It’s a sign, so let’s call.
I found him at a dirty corner of town: old, tired, bedraggled, nearly homeless. Age and stress crept into him. Sometimes his hand trembles. Sometimes his sight falters.
I set him a table in my living room the next day. I told him what happened to the girl with intestinal prolapse. I showed him the mother cat with the raw tummy. I told him about a kitten with a megacolon. I pointed to a sleeping kitten with horribly foul breath and swollen gums. I showed him I still run a cat shelter. I let him roam around the house and have the cats running to him as if The Son Of God come to the world the second time.
I had a hard time telling them off so the vet can work on the sick and the dead.
I told him beforehand, however, that I haven’t got the money needed for all these patients.
He laughed loudly. His voice is croaky, but I heard him clearly that it doesn’t matter.
For him, life and cats are the only things that matter.
Then he sat down and did his magic.
Now the girl walks normally, eats normally, drink normally; she is no longer in pain. Full of hope, full of spirit.
The mother cat woke up less than two hours after surgery. Her belly looks like Frankenstein, and she is limping everywhere; but in two weeks she will have new skin, a new belly, new life.
The old vet texted me tonight, asking how his patients are doing. No vet did that before. I showed him photos of the cats. I told him the truth that our people and his cohorts denied him only because he is different; he put efforts above standards. I gave him the acknowledgment our people and his cohort refused to give, because when his fellow veterinarians give up, he has the courage to believe in the animal and keep trying.
I told him “Thank you”.
He is my hero.