Dear Belly,

I miss you more than words can convey. I've been without you for 57 hours now. I hope you are faring better than me. I am struggling with overwhelming feelings of sadness and guilt. I thought that I would write you a letter to hopefully explain why, and relieve some of the burden I'm carrying. Because that's what you were best at, was relieving the pressure and helping me to just be.

I had a weird premonition when you turned 10. I very suddenly felt that my time with you had significantly shortened, but couldn't explain how or why. I mentioned to a few people that we had officially spent half your life together, because I fully expected you to live to your twenties. But I didn't tell anyone that I had suddenly felt that we wouldn't see your twenties together. I watched you for signs - of me being right or of me being wrong, anything. You were your normal, loud, bubbly self, my sweet girl.

You have always been in excellent health, even when dealing with obesity. As you got older and your vaccinations were less and less important, I stopped bringing you in to the vet as often. You hated the vet, you were stressed out by the car ride, and I couldn't see the benefit of dragging you in once a year just to have them tell me you were one of the healthiest old lady cats they'd seen. Our diet worked and you lost the extra weight, getting back down to your svelte 9lb figure.

But then earlier this year, you were suddenly so skinny. I could feel your spine when I pet you. I was terrified to take you in, because I was terrified that it would be like when Eve went to the vet. I didn't want it to be my last moment with you. I told Aaron multiple times that we needed to make an appointment for you and for Tana. It's kind of become my job, to be the cat mom and make your doctor's appointments. Telling Aaron didn't keep me accountable. I didn't make the appointment until I found your bump.

You incredible creature. I don't know how you hid your tumor from me. I had taken a photo two days before finding your bump. You were sleeping on my pillow on the couch and I was sleeping with my face in your belly. My nose was touching your bump and I didn't know. I didn't notice.

I feel so horribly guilty for not seeing it until it was too late. My sweetie cat, I hope you know that I would have gone above and beyond for you. I am your Mama. I would have done whatever I possibly could in order to help you heal. Which is why, when your cancer spread into your body and made you hurt and made you sick, I chose to let you sleep.

Baby cat, I could not bear to see you in pain. I could not stand to see you suffer. When the cancer wouldn't let your body fight the infection anymore, it was time to let you go. It was the hardest decision I have ever made and I am still hurting from it. I'm afraid that part of me always will have hurting from it.

You spent your whole life as my baby girl. You took your job as my best friend seriously. You were there for every joy and for every trauma, and you were so good at taking away my hurts every time. Belly, this was a way for me to return the favor. I have been your Mama for your whole life. It was possible for me to take away this hurt. Even as it hurts me still, I chose to lift your burden of pain from you because it was the best thing I could do for you.

I hate that cancer took you. I hate that I didn't catch it early enough to make a difference. My heart hurts so much that I can't breathe for the pain of it. You were one of the most important relationships of my life. You were my kitty baby, yes, and my best friend. My confidante, my companion. For perhaps the same reasons that painting expresses my thoughts and feelings, you and I connected without speaking the same language. I love other kitties, but I have never felt so deeply joined, so wonderfully content, with any other animal.

You are irreplaceable. My life has a gaping hole in it. I came home today and you weren't there. I had reminded myself multiple times that you wouldn't be, yet I was still so fucking sad that you didn't somehow surprise me. I am so grateful that the spells I cast to guide you to your next adventure were successful, but I am selfishly grieving the fact that I do not feel your energy here anymore.

My brain keeps forcing me to relive the moments we said goodbye. Watching the sedative take over your body, holding your limp head in my hand and feeling your breath stop as I kissed you and told you how loved and safe you were. I really, really hope you know how loved you are, how safe you are. How precious you will always be to me. I hope you weren't scared. I hope that I took all the scared and the pain away from you.

I'm overwhelmingly sad. I miss you more than I've ever missed anyone or anything, which I kind of feel guilty about, but not enough to stop me from feeling it. My heart constantly keeps dropping to the floor and my breath keeps stopping. I've been carrying your caterpillar baby with me, and sleeping with it, and hugging and kissing it. I miss how you smell of syrup and vanilla, just the slightest hint, and how rumbling and loud your purr was.

My beautiful, crazy smart Belly cat. I love you. I never wanted to live without you. I miss your meows in the dark - I've put up a nightlight, since I no longer have your meows to guide me. I miss your meows in the daytime - Tana doesn't like wet food much, so she won't beg for it, and I feel absolutely awful because I forget to try to give her treats without your reminders. I miss your determination to squish into a spot next to me, even if there wasn't technically room. I miss your warm purrs against my feet and legs when you'd crawl on my lap and settle in. I miss chatting with you about my day. I miss chasing you around the house to give you pets. I miss teaching you tricks. I miss having to hide my plants from you so you wouldn't eat them. I miss making you chase your feather toys. I miss you, thoroughly, entirely, wholeheartedly.

The most horrible thing about this is that it's the biggest hurt I've been through, and the only thing I want in the entire world is to snuggle with you and have you help me get through it. But this is the one hurt you can't be here to heal. And I know that I will eventually get there. Maybe on my own, or with the help of an animal friend I make along the way. But I wish it was you. Please forgive me, and understand why it happened.

I love you, Bellatrix. You're still my constant companion. I think of you all the time. I miss you with every fiber of my being. I hope that you are across the rainbow bridge, pain-free, cancer gone. I hope you're scouting out all the good spots for naps, and meeting new animal friends, and spending time with my other loved ones who are waiting there. Say hi to Eddie and to Great Grandma. You won't know them but Ducky and Joan will be there too, if you need them. And you will meet Grandpa Don; give him a chance, because has a nice squishy belly, Belly. You'll love him. Don't be too suspicious. And I hope that when I cross the bridge myself, no matter when that is, I hope you're the first thing I see. Because you were my home, my haven, my darling Belly. I can't imagine a better homecoming than to get to see you again.

I love you, kitty.

Love, Mama

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