Snowbell {rest in peace, dear friend; July 2, 2012}

12 years is such a long time to fit into one day of goodbyes....
When I came home from my trip up North I was faced with a decision to make about my cat, Snowbell: let him pass away in pain at home from kidney failure, or, put him down in a sterile vet's office and immediately end the suffering.

It's not an easy decision to make, regardless of the known facts about the pain he will ultimately be in at home-if I were to let him pass there. It would been rough on me emotionally-seeing him suffer so much. But it would be rough on Snowbell, too, who would be the one in physical pain while I stood by the side watching him dwindle and suffer, and scream out in agony.

"Deal with it. He's just a cat". That is the advice some would give to a person who has just been through a traumatic loss of their dearest and nearest friend. It sounds crazy when you think about it-and sometimes I even think I am going insane-when I say that Snowbell is not a cat but my best friend for ever is hard to let him go. To say goodbye to 'someone' who has been there with you, cried with you, laughed with you, and endured the hardest times of you life with you. 

How can you say goodbye without crying? How can you let go of an angel who has been there for you till his dying days; who taught you-in a small, but very important way-how to love and enjoy all of life's moments (even if they were with a cat!)?

I remember it like it were yesterday: 

The whole family-dad, Gerald, Stephanie, mom and I-hopped out of our family van. We had spent most of the morning and some of the afternoon in search of the right kitten for my sister. She had been forever begging Dad to let her get a cat. 

Dad opened the door to the Sumner County Humane Society and went up to the counter. He asked the receptionist with cat eye glasses where the best place to start looking for an animal to adopt would be. She told my dad, as she made gestures with her large man-hands, that there were puppy kennels (which were really dog kennels for all ages) in the back of the dark dingy building, kittens to the left of the desk, and adult cats to the right. 

Dad looked to Stephanie who was practically bounding with excitement, her short jet black hair swishing wildly about her face and into her gaping mouth. "Where do you want to go first?" Dad asked. He pointed to the dog kennel in the back, hinting towards possibly getting a dog rather than a 'litter slinging feline'.

Stephanie, the little critter lover that she was, automatically raced off towards the sound of the boisterous dogs crowded in the back kennels. As she led the way, the rest of the family followed, mom right behind Stephanie telling her to not touch the dogs. 

The dogs didn't seem to hold much interest for Stephanie. With the dogs out of the way, she headed back to the cat rooms, choosing first to head into the room where the adult cats were held. Even to this day I think she regrets not having gone to visit the babies first!

We never did actually get to visit the kittens, because the minute my dad stepped into the adult cat room, he was sold. While Stephanie was memorized by two very fat cats, dad's 'let's think logically about this' powers were no match for this doll faced, blue pointed Himilayan's cuteness factor. And with that, all reasoning went out the door. 

I stood on the outside of the room with mom and my younger brother Gerald. He was too young to play nice with the cats, and mom had to keep him from wandering off, so she didn't go in. That didn't hinder her from seeing the colorful array of kitties, though.

Unlike my mom, who looked on with more refinement than myself, I stood on the outside, face pressed on the glass window, watching the cats bathe themselves, eat, potty, play, and fight. And of course there was my sister fluttering around from one cat to the next, petting them, hugging them, feeding them, and talking to them. 

And dad, well, he was fixated on this little cotton ball that had magically appeared from underneath some shelving. I didn't even see him. I could barely even count the number of cats on one hand, and I was ready to leave anyway because I was bored and hungry. 

Mom, knowing I had a fetish for all things soft and fluffy, did eventually direct my attention-away from my silly sister who had fixed herself on a fat black and white Tom-to where dad was sitting petting this, this fluff ball

Looking at Snowbell through the glass windows of the adult cat room at the Animal Shelter, I didn't really know what to think.  Part of me wanted to run in and cuddle with him; the other part of me wanted nothing to do with him.

Eventually dad motioned for me to come see Snowbell. I did go and try to pet the cat. I'd never seen a flat faced cat before. He looked alien to me. But he didn't want anything to do with me, so I decided that two could play at that game. And when he did come around to showing me affection, I ignored him and left.  

"Awe, Emily. Did you not like the cat?" My mom asked me when I returned. 
"Why not? He's so fluffy and soft. Go back in there and pet him."
For whatever reason I was about to cry. I could feel the tears welling up in my throat, so I made up a lie that I hoped would get me out of having to explain why I did't want to go back in.
"He's an ugly cat, mom. Are we going to get him? I don't want to go back in because it's too hairy and my nose itches." 
Mom looked at me and frowned, but gave up. In truth, that room was nothing but a humid turbine of cat hair, and it really was making my nose itch!

Dad had moved Snowbell around so mom could see him more closely. For a moment I thought I was actually falling in love with the thing. He was cute, I guess. But the tough me wanted to ignore that and move on.

I stood for a long time looking at Snowbell's face, it was all scrunched up, he was fluffier than a q-tip, and had the bluest eyes! But none of that made me want him anymore than I wanted to stay there and keep searching for 'the one'.

Little did I know that the search for 'the one' was over the minute Snowbell peeked his little round head out from under the shelving. And when dad came out of the room with Snow in his arms, mom smiled and asked him where he'd been hiding. 

"He came out from under the shelving." Dad answered.
"You mean no one knew he was there?" I screeched. "Is that why he's still here?" I asked.
"I guess..." Said mom petting Snow on the head. She then looked to me and said, "He was probably so scared that he hid under those shelves and hasn't been out much since. What gets me, though, is why anyone would drop off such a beautiful cat and not try to find a home for it?"

It did make me wonder. And it also made me a little sad to think that his owner didn't love Snowbell enough to find him a new mommy; instead, he was abandoned and left to fend for himself against twenty other starving cats who were ten times bigger.

It didn't make me want him anymore, though. I was actually resenting the idea of getting the cat 1) because he would be Stephanie's cat (I mean, that's who we were getting him for) and, 2) because I didn't like cats. Well, at that time in my life, I hated pretty much everything. Nothing brought me joy or made me the slightest bit happy.

Stephanie didn't like the idea of Snowbell having been chosen to be her new cat. She was more focused on the black and white one.

And if it wasn't for dad having been such a softy and a sucker for all things fluffy, we probably would have ended up with that little fatty. But we didn't get that one; and to this day Stephanie hasn't liked Snowbell very much!

We ended up bringing Snowbell home after I insisted on calling him Snowbell. That's because my sister wanted to name him something ridiculous and unflattering. I think she attemped to call him Stewart or Cheddar or something like that. And even though I wanted no part of this cat and could have cared less to bring him home, I wasn't going to have him named something that didn't seem to fit

The name Stewart did bring up a name, thought. Actually, Snowbell is the name of the cat in Stewart Little, and since the two looked so alike, that's how Snow got his name-from a movie star kitty!

I think it must have taken me months to get used to him. His initial introduction to our home wasn't to be desired. He was scared, not to mention thin and very vocal. I think some of that was due to his vet visit before we brought him home. He's never liked being poked and prodded, and this visit to the vet was no different. 

After his visit to the vet (they said me was a male, but couldn't tell for sure; and that Snowbell was at least three years of age), mom introduced him to our Border Collie at the time. That didn't go too well-Snowbell hated the dog-and then we put him in a room to himself so he could get acclimated to the hustle and bustle of our busy little homeschool life. 

He seemed to do well. He ate, drank, and enjoyed his regular grooming sessions immensely (still has to his dying days!). 

One day, not to long after we brought Snow home, Mom told me that I should try to "connect" with the cat by brushing him. I think she was getting tired of doing everything for the cat, plus doing house chores and homeschooling, and taking care of the dog. And Stephanie wasn't interested in the cat after all! So I got the job. Like it or not...Oh, boy! Like I was really looking forward to touching that thing. 

Soon mom let Snowbell out of his little room and moved him up stairs into my room. After the time I had spent with him I was starting to warm up to the idea of having a odd-faced, fluffy cotton ball of a cat hanging around; but that all went south after the first night with him in my room. 

I'd been used to uninterrupted sleep for some time, and when he was released, it was as if a wild ape or mountain lion had been allowed to roam free in the jungle. And unfortunately for me, I was the pray. 

That very night, after being completely annoyed with Snowbell and having no sleep whatsoever, I packed his little butt up and carried him all the way back down to his little room where he first started at. 

Now we're inseparable! Yes, he grew on me. I tell mom all the time that he's my angel. And I swear that he was purposefully sent by God to not only teach me the value of time, but patience, too. And one important lesson I think Snowbell has taught me thus far is this: TO LOVE. 

Snowbell has allowed me to share his life with him. And I have been so blessed and fortunate enough to have been given the chance to love someone so open, loving, willing, and perfect. He may not be human, but he's definitely been there more times than I can count to mend my broken heart; to soak up the tears I cry; to do my school work with me; to read Twilight and Lord of the Rings with me; to watch TV with me; to move into a new home with me; to calm me down; to help me through an anxiety attack; to help me feel-emotionally and physicality; to pick me up when I am sad; to cheer me up when I am mad, and to make me laugh more times that I can count! 

Snowbell has been my companion-my loving, true friend. He's been with me throughout most of his life, especially amid the fires of my eating disorder; and in his last few days here on this earth, I am going to do the same for him. I am going to be matter what.

Looking back, I'd give anything to have him wrestling me out of my sleep by nudging me with his little slate colored nose, and blinking at my wildly with his starry blue eyes. I would give anything to hear him purr and meow; to hear him claw at the closet door when he wants in; to hear him clean himself; to hear him eat; to watch him play; to see him walking around the corner of the bed just as I get ready to open his bag of treats. I would give anything to watch him drink out of the tub, sleep on my bed, hide in the closet, lace himself through my legs, to have him look up at me and almost smile as if he were saying "everything's going to be alright". I would give anything to hear his blue snowshoe-like feet romp around on the bedroom floor, slinging that cat litter into the air as he buries his body in the litter anticipating a game of hide-and-seek with himself!

Oh, how I would give anything to go back in time and relive life all over again just to spend one more day with my little man! 


It's going to all be okay, right? I will see you again soon. Heartache is only for a little while. You promise not to forget me? You promise you won't have too much fun without me, right? Oh, how I will miss you! I will miss everything about you!! But I know that angels always go to Heaven; and in my heart I know that whenever a bell rings you've gotten your wings. Because that's what a guardian angel deserves-to have wings. So remember what I always tell you: "be good, sweetie! Be good".


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