It was all the loss coming out. My father-in-law and the breakup of our family, scattered to so many places without the home apartment. My mother's illnesses. And my father. Above all, my daddy.
I wanted him back. I wanted them all back. But night after night without Bart snuggled at my feet was the worst of all. His daily presence in the house was gone. We felt out of balance.
Bella adjusted in some ways, but in others she was clearly a grieving "widow'. She clung to me. She wailed at me.
And JR was inconsolable. She said she never wanted another cat, ever.
Her name was Moonbeam. When we came back from vacation we went to see her at the shelter. JR had cried when I suggested it, but in the end, decided she wanted to go.
But she wasn't "our" cat. None of the cats at the shelter that day was our cat.
We thought Louie was our cat. He was smaller than Bart, but solid black like him. He was about 6 years old, not a kitten--better for Bella, we thought. He seemed sweet. JR liked him.
But after a weekend at our house, we realized he didn't want to be our cat. He had already decided his foster home was HIS home. He liked us, but he didn't need us.
He was too Bart like at times. He made me cry. And he made JR cry. So we brought him back to his foster family, who realized he really was their cat. That part was happy at least.
"I don't want to do this again for a while,"said JR. But I felt the need for a second cat. I felt like our house was out of balance.
I knew I'd never love another cat the way I loved Bart any more than I would love another the way I'd loved Spooky or Puffin, our first cats. But I also knew there was another cat out there that needed us, that wanted us. I could almost feel his/her silky fur under my fingers.
One Sunday I told JR I was going to a different local shelter--a privately run one--to look at their cats, and she decided to come with me.
Instead of cats in cages, the cats at this shelter roam freely. There were cats on perches, cats in cat hideouts. Cats EVERYWHERE. I could see a black kitten sleeping in one of the hideaways, poking out one white paw. And that stirred a happy memory.
Long ago, when the Man and I were grieving for a lost kitten I went to a meeting in another library branch. It's the branch I work in now. The office it was held in is now MY office. And there, poking one white paw out of a box dressed up to look like a circus tent, was a black and white kitten. Back then, stray cats used to live under the building and the cat loving staff had brought this kitten in when it got cold. She needed a home.
The Man and I adopted her. "Spooky" lived with us for 10 happy years.
Her name was "Stevie". She was about 6 months old. She and her brother had been found as 2 month old abandoned kittens, but her brother had already been adopted separately.
Daphne, the cat who hissed, clearly wouldn't get along with Bella. A kitten might if she knew how to defer to adult cats. And a kitten would be more likely to bond with us all. But I've dealt with kittens. It's like having a toddler in the house! With everything going on in our house, with the mess everywhere, a kitten wasn't what I wanted.
But she was sweet, JR liked her. When we brought the Man and SC to see her a few days later, they liked her too. So we decided to adopt her.
Two weeks ago "Stevie" came home with us. After the first night, we let her loose and while Bella wasn't (and still isn't) thrilled with her, she didn't menace her.
"Stevie" loves us all. She nuzzles us. She purrs like a motorboat. She loves to play, especially by chasing the red beam from a laser pointer,--just as Bart loved to do. She doesn't sit in laps, but she cuddles next to us, and sometimes likes to sleep with us at night.
She's not Bart like enough to make us cry, and her resemblance to Spooky at times only makes me smile.
She wants to be friends with Bella, who still isn't giving in, and sometimes intimidates her a bit. But she also sits peacefully on the sofa with her at times. Sometimes Bella gives me "What the hell is that kitten doing here?" looks. But she doesn't whine at me or cling to me as much now.
Our house has balance. We have two cats again. We have someone new to love and she wants to be our cat. She IS our cat. It's wonderful.
Only she wasn't really a "Stevie". So now she is Molly!