As I started writing this piece she wandered into my home office and started chirping at me. It only took me about two years to get to a place where I was ready to write about her. As I was reading about our two kitties who had come before her – Sally Boy Kitty and Eliza Jane Doolittle, she was curious and on my shoulder. Like she knows I’m writing something about her. Or, you know, she’s just being a cat. Because they are ridiculous and cute and mischievous and don’t give a rip and have all the very best qualities.
I’d like to formally introduce you to Bella. Sure you’ve seen her around and she shows up in many pictures and the kids have fallen in love with her and she rightly scatters when they come running through the room, but she always comes back. She always wants to be right in the middle of what’s going on. Or slightly above it all. Perched. Watching. Always watching.
There’s that dumb Smurfs movie where Nosy Smurf keeps popping up and saying, “what’s happening in here” or “what’s going on in here” trying to be all cool about things and that’s totally Bella. She always wants to mix in. But also remain a bit aloof. Just like a cat.
I mean, I was just trying to take a picture of the Christmas tree when this happened.
If that photobombing beauty doesn’t belong in our goofy family, I don’t know who does. This is my favorite new photo by the way.
My husband is the one. He is the one true love for Bella and quite frankly, it infuriated me for a long time. I begged to adopt a cat forever and he finally agreed and she thinks he hung the moon and I’m left eating bed pie alone at night in bed with netflix and no kitty on my lap. But that ain’t so bad, let me tell you.
You can’t force a cat to do anything. Nothing. You certainly cannot force a cat to love you, much to my chagrin.
We adopted her almost two years ago. We never really bonded. Not for my lack of trying. I mean, sure I’ve been accused of trying too hard at just about everything BUT WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN. Sure, I scoop the poop and I feed and water her and we play and we love each other, but bonding like my other two cats? NOPE. Hadn’t happened yet. Maybe because she’s the first cat Christopher has adopted that wasn’t part of a relationship before he entered. Maybe because she just likes him better. WHATEVER.
Lately things have changed. We’ve had a shift. Maybe it’s because I’m home a hell of lot more than I’ve ever been in my life. I mean, I’ve never ever worked from home so much and spend so much time in a place where I live. Never.
She likes me now, I think. She follows me around and likes to be where I am. She sits quietly with me when the kids are at school and I’m working. THIS IS HUGE. Maybe it’s because I’m usually surrounded by the loud twins and she knows thinks I’m part of that package, but lately she’s been sitting with me and chatting.
One of the things I miss most about Sally is how much he talked at me. Bella is doing that a bit now. She’s a lot quieter, but it’s happening. I mean, sure as soon as my husband gets home she’s all his, but for those days where I’m here and she’s here and we are alone, we are bffs.
I hate to admit to feeling sad that I didn’t have a relationship with her like I did with my other two loves. I mean, nobody can ever fill Sally Boy’s hole in my heart, and Eliza, well, she was my first and my sweetest crabby old lady. But Bella, well, she’s her own little girl and I’ve had to be patient and wait her out. It only took about two years, but I think it’s safe to say I have an in. I’m here.
My boy asks me every so often to tell him a story about Sally. I happily oblige him. Then both kids chime in with so many questions. They were just newborns when Sally died, never met him, and yet they talk about him as if they knew him. They talk in the voice that I talk in when acting as if I’m Sally talking. Does that make any sense? I’m guessing to you animal folk out there it does. This is how we keep our loves alive. By telling their stories even when they’re not here. Have I mentioned Coco is one of our favorite movies?
Bella loves her kids in her own way and boy do they love her. She allows them to play with her on her terms and when it’s too much, she’s out. We are looking to adopt another kitty soon, but I’ve slowed my roll because I’m enjoying getting to know little Miss Bella better one on one recently. I’m glad life intervened and we waited.
You can never ever replace a pet or a person. You can’t. But sometimes – if given enough time – you find new and wonderful things about who is around you right now.
I miss Sally Boy every day. I miss Eliza every day too but it’s different. Sally was my best friend in the entire world and not even two babies can make up for that loss. Sure, they help, but it doesn’t erase the pain that is still there when I think about him. If you read those posts up there about my Sally and Eliza (they’re worth a read, I promise), you know that I take it as a great honor when pets open up to me. I guess I had some opening up to do with Bella to. To let her entirely in. Maybe I wasn’t quite as ready as I thought I was when we adopted her.
The fact that we tell these stories gives me great hope that the words we share and the memories we create will live on. In so many ways, great and small, we honor those who have come before us. And we make space for new and lovely souls to move in and create their own stories if we let them. We have plenty of room all around us. Our capacity for love just keeps increasing once we start. But grieving also takes as long as it takes, and that’s ok.
So, I give you Bella. In all her goofy, beautiful, teeny tiny yet full grown glory. She is a McDermott-Maher through and through. I’m actually thankful she’s been so hard to win over, it makes it even more sweet to be one of her people.
I am grateful you are here, little one. We need you and hopefully you need us too. I hope you have a long happy life with us. I’ll be damned if you haven’t taught me much already. I am trying my best to meet you right where you are instead of asking for you to meet me where I am. That’s not how this works.
It’s quite possible I’m spending a bit too much time alone with Bella lately, and I don’t want to hear any words about that, you hear me? Let me have this. Happy Holidays, everybody.