Bella Luna 2000- December 28, 2013
We are never so lucky as when an animal chooses one of us to be his or her pet.
When I relocated for a new teaching job, my first two purchases for my new home were my own washer and dryer and a cat. The cat was the more important purchase.
The day after moving in all my stuff, my mom, sister, and I visited Cat Welfare http://www.catwelfareohio.com/ on the recommendation of a friend. It was Crazy Cat Lady heaven with dozens of cats roaming freely around the shelter while small kittens and those who had just had surgery or needed meds were staying in stacked cages. It was wonderful and overwhelming.
I was bent over looking in a cage at a vibrant calico named Sarah, when something from above snagged my hair. A smudged white paw had shot through the bars and latched on to some of my ponytail. I stood up and looked in at green eyes, a black mask, and white fur dirtied by the newspaper print lining her cage. We checked each other out and I kept on moving around the shelter.
I was across the shelter, when I noticed a couple looking in at the black and white caged cat. For whatever reason, I bee lined across the room and made their personal space my personal space. They moved on and I asked a volunteer if I was allowed to hold the cat who was caged because she had recently been spade. I baby cradled the future Bella Luna who calmly gazed up at me and worked her shelter cat magic for all she was worth. She reached up and patted my cheek with her paw, a move she would use for the rest of our life together.
Sometime during the car ride home Bella Luna officially became Bella Luna my beautiful moon. She was named for a line in the movie Moonstruck; a film where many of the characters’ love lives are turned on end by the power of the giant fantasy moon (la bella luna) that shines over Brooklyn. The grandfather character urges his pack of dogs to howl at the moon: “Guarda la bella luna.” Look at the beautiful moon.
During her first day at home August 2, 2000, Bella spent her time hiding under chairs and boxes, avoiding her new people and getting the lay of the land. Exhausted from moving and unpacking, I fell asleep while reading in bed with the lights on. At about 4 a.m., I was awakened by Bella walking up across my body until she settled on my chest and tucked her head in under my chin to go to sleep.
For 13 years, she has been sleeping on my chest, my back, my shoulder, beside my head on the pillow, tucked into my armpit, whatever part of me she could comfortably get to. If I slept on my side, she would somehow slide herself in between my arms and body. On more than one occasion, she demanded that I lay down for a nap so that SHE could have a place to sleep.
For 13 years, she has tolerated traveling, moving, costumed photo shoots, other cats in her house, questionable boyfriends, loud music, the vacuum cleaner, so many other things, and me. Most of all she tolerated me. My other cats can be selective with their purrs, but Bella always purred when I petted her and best of all she purred simply when I was there in the room with her.
For 13 years, I have been in love with my Principessa Bella “Bunny” Luna. I loved her soft bunny fur and tendency to hop. I loved her big green eyes framed by her “Batman” mask of black fur. I loved that she stole pizza toppings with her left paw. I loved her black spots that were markers for scratching and petting. I loved that I was allowed to fall asleep with my face against her side as she purred. I loved that she wanted little more than to burrow under a blanket or make a “cat burrito” with a piece of fleece. I loved that she would press her face against mine when I carried her. I loved her pink nose that changed from pale to bright depending on her mood. I loved her tiny paw pads that were a mix of black and pink. I love that my best friend is owned by Bella’s fur twin. I loved that she was opinionated and grumpy at times.
I loved that she was mine and that she chose me.
While Bella survived the lung surgery and removal of a tumor in October, her health deteriorated during December and test results showed that a whole new cancer had appeared in her swollen lymph nodes. This made her yet another statistical oddity, as her oncologist said that this cancer did not typically manifest this way in cats. After an ultra sound on December 28, it was revealed that the cancer had filled her, giving her a week to two weeks of getting progressively sicker until she died. I could not stand the idea of making an additional appointment later to essentially drive my girl to her death. Worse yet, I did not want her to suffer. She had put up with so much already.
My mom and I buried Bella in the evening on December 28. I’m not sure what to do with her food. My house is covered in photos and artwork of her. I forgot that her chemo meds were still under the sink. I’m offended that the other cats don’t seem to care that she’s gone. Every time I walk down the hallway to my bedroom, I automatically expect to see her on my bed or in the window seat. The other cats don’t sleep on me the way she did. I’m just so terribly sad.