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I always write about my dogs, but long before these two crazy beings came into my family’s life, we had only cats – two cats. Sadly, they both passed away within the last two years. Recently, I came across the piece below, written just after our last cat left us. Her death was especially hard to accept because even up to the end Bella was sweetness itself. She seemed grateful for everything, every morsel of food, every stroke of her fur, every moment on our laps, and even our ready response to her soft cries when, at the very end, she wanted us to carry her over to the litter box – she could barely move and yet still she refused to soil her bedding. At the time of her passing, I didn’t have the heart to share the piece below, but recently when I came across it in my files, it somehow made me feel glad that I made an attempt, at least, to acknowledge her existence in our lives. So here is my tribute, however brief, to Bella.

Our family is broken, like an old boat that lists to one side. We stay afloat, but we’re thrown off balance and feel dangerously close to falling into an ocean that looks darker and bleaker than ever before. To an objective observer, it may not seem like there’s a problem. And even if this observer happens to notice the flaw, it might appear easy enough to fix. But for us, there’s no fix. We just wait for the passage of time to ease us back into balance.

Bella died this week. That’s her picture above. I know that people who’ve never shared their homes with animals may not understand the pain of losing these bright creatures who are so much more than pets. But I also know there are others who, like us, have gazed at that dark ocean or that night sky and asked: “Where have they gone?” And to all who have, I hope you will wish Bella the paradise she deserves. I hope you will wish her long sessions of “catch the guitar string,” endless lush fields of green that she can dart about in when the mood strikes, a big house filled with bay windows and many other cats and plenty of sunlit spots for them to nap in…and all manner of wonderful pleasures. For Bella, our Bellarina, a beautiful soul in every way, deserved no less.