Drew and I had been married and living in El Segundo, California, for two months when he flew back to New Orleans to see his oldest friend graduate from college. When he called me from the airport to let me know he had arrived safely, I told him "IgotacathernameisStellaIloveyoudon'tbemad." He wasn't mad.
I gave Stella free reign of our apartment as soon as I got her home. She sniffed around for at least an hour while I watched TV in my recliner in the living room. After her exploration, she surprised me by jumping right up in my lap, turning around a few times, and laying down. "She already knows I'm her new mommy!" I thought, and reached out slowly to pet her head. She screeched, bit the hell out of my hand, ran under our bed, and didn't come out for 2 hours. She didn't let us actually pet her for about 2 years, but by golly, our laps were HERS.
She was nonplussed by Ace's arrival, and as he grew older, he was always fascinated by her. The other cats would run away from Ace if he got too handsy, but when Stella occupied a space, it was her space, and so help you if you tried to move her. It took her biting him a few times before he figured out not to mess with her. Ace was always tender with her after that, petting her exactly when and where she wanted, and his lap became her favorite spot.
We noticed Stella was losing weight earlier this year and took her to the vet over the summer. The diagnosis was basically "she's old." Unfortunately, after several episodes over the last two months that brought us back to the vet's office, it became clear that her body was simply shutting down.
When Drew shook me awake late Sunday evening to tell me that Stella was going to need to go to the vet again in the morning, I told him he was going to have to take her, because I knew there was no way I could make the decision that had to be made. He made an appointment for 8:30, just when I was dropping Ace off at school. As I was driving back toward Brandon, I realized that no call from Drew meant that the decision had been made. I arrived at the vet's office and walked in the exam room just in time to see Drew, his eyes red with tears, signing the euthanasia consent form.
She passed mercifully quickly.
After Drew buried her, we sat at the kitchen table for what seemed like hours wiping away tears and holding hands. He left for work, and I started rehearsing what I would tell Ace.
Nothing could have prepared me for Ace's reaction. When my grandmother passed away in January, he seemed sad but mostly just had a lot of questions. I assumed he still didn't have a grasp on the finality of death and would just have similar questions about Stella. I was very wrong. In the middle of his sobs, my precious boy asked "who's going to pet her? She's going to be all alone." His screaming slowed to sniffling, and we went outside to play.
Drew came home from work early so we could have a funeral. Ace again broke down into deep sobs, shaking my normally unshakeable husband, and we all stood in the backyard and cried and hugged for a while. I told Ace how I'd surprised Dada with Stella and asked him to tell me his favorite things about her. Drew said a prayer, we all hugged again, and we came inside.
Goodbye, sweet Stella. I hope you like God's lap as much as you loved Ace's and that you have a big couch to lay on, unlimited cold water to drink, and the best wet food heaven has to offer. Rest in peace, my beautiful, sassy kitty.
4 weeks ago