I had to say goodbye to my Baby Belle today. Isabelle was my cat for 6 years. And if you ever had the pleasure of meeting her you would know that any amount of time could never be enough. There are animals that come into our lives and shake us to the core. We meet them and are never the same again. She was one such creature.
It’s common knowledge that I am a notorious cat lady. But Isabelle was special. I knew I was screwed from the moment that tiny white puff came bounding out of the woods and rolled over onto my feet. We never knew how she made it through the wilderness being so tiny and helpless but I like to think that she was guided to me. The second that I locked into those precious blue eyes I knew she was mine and I was hers. I imagine that this is what parents experience when they meet their baby for the first time. I have no children to compare it to – but Isabelle was my baby.
Contrary to the stereotype that we hold cats to, Isabelle was the most affectionate animal I have ever met – dogs included. I have seen this tiny kitty turn even the most hardened of hearts into mushy pools of gooey love. She was able to make you love her instantly. And in turn she would love you even more. She was never more comfortable when she was nestled next to me, loudly purring as I pet her. She was my shadow. When I would walk around the house I knew that she would always be no more than a few steps behind me. She was playful. I could count on her running to the door – and sometimes sliding passed it – when I would arrive home for work always excited to see me. She was a chatterbox. When I would speak to her she would loudly reply in meows. She was also a bandit. Any turkey sandwich left unattended would likely fall prey to her thievery. She was a Sprite in every sense of the word. For six years she has slept in my bed beside me. And I have spent much time crying over the anticipation of waking up in the morning without her.
She has seen me through depression, divorce, relocation and unemployment. I know few people that I can say are that strong, spirited and dependable. So when a few months ago she began to have trouble eating I took her to the vet because it hurt me to see her struggle. And two weeks ago when she was diagnosed with cancer I knew that I would do anything to help her through it.
I imagine that it is hard enough having to watch a person go through cancer. But how can you offer comfort to an animal that cannot understand why she feels so sick. I had tried everything that was within my power to help ease her suffering. We changed foods countless times. I gave her every medication prescribed. I gladly sat with her for hours trying to coax her to eat. Sometimes I would just lay next to her while she slept. I figured that while I could not explain to her why she was in pain, the least I could do was lie there so she did not feel alone.
Her Chemo treatment began on Monday. Yesterday, I knew our efforts were not going to give me the extra time with her that I had been so desperately pleading the Universe for. Last night, I took Isabelle to the Animal ER. As it turns out her tumor had perforated her stomach and she had become septic. I was left with the difficult decision of choosing to continue medical treatment that included surgery in addition to chemotherapy or to let her go peacefully.
How had it come to this? How could I possibly choose? Surgery would certainly mean a longer, tougher battle with pain and no guaranteed cure but euthanasia sounded like I was giving up on her; giving up on my baby. I could not stomach the thought of her suffering. But giving up was just as unimaginable. So when I held her in my arms today and when I looked into her eyes, I knew. I wasn’t giving up on her, I was about to put her needs ahead of my own desire to keep her close to me. And as she was in my arms, I pet her. I thanked her for being so strong – for her and for me. I told her that she was all anyone could ever hope for in a cat and that I would always love her.
She offered me love and comfort during some of the darkest days of my life. And she brought me joy every day that she was with me. It is a job that animals dutifully perform and that people take for granted. I could never be more grateful for the joy and love that Isabelle brought to my world. I am thankful that she is no longer in pain but today I am consumed by my own agony. I am buckling under the heart-wrenching ache that her absence has left. I cannot find consolation. I cannot imagine tomorrow without her.
My heart is broken. But great love often comes with deep loss. And I would not give one up to save me from the other. So today with a heavy heart, I let my little angel go home to heaven. She counted on me to always take care of her and today I hope that as her loving Mommy I did right by her.
She will always be my baby and I will always miss her.