Ms. Lulu Belle and her brother Stu came into my life 12 years ago. Stu was the confident jock type while Lu was shy, portly, and frankly unsure of people. I don’t know how these 2 ended up together in a dumpster in Chicago, but they did, and I’m even more grateful they landed in my life. I only intended to bring Stu home, but he was so attached to this pathetic little bug-eyed, ear mite ridden, tuxedo wearing kitten, I agreed to take them both.
For months Lulu hid under the couch hissing and swatting at ankles as people passed by, only trusting Stu who would bathe and snuggle her. There were honestly days I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But things slowly changed. She would come out, awkwardly perch on my lap, and accept pats. Lulu was a litmus test for kindness. You had to be patient with her. With time, however, you could win her heart and she would win yours.
As the years passed, Lu changed even more dramatically. She was no longer the hairless, cranky kitten I had grown to love. A beautiful shiny coat grew in. She became playful and would choose to be in the room with us, and sleep at the foot of the bed. You’d call her name and she’d stampede down the stairs in the most dramatic fashion possible. She was fun and funny and funny looking and you couldn’t help but tease her (she hated Obama and didn’t believe in global warming). She never wanted the spotlight like her brother, but she learned to love and be loved. Lu had found a home and never wanted to leave. Unlike Stu, who has an insatiable urge to explore, she would sit at an open door and choose to stay in. She knew harshness out there and knew there was love inside.
Two months ago something both horrifying and lovely happened. Lu was diagnosed with myriad terminal health problems, and we started treatment. Then the miracle: Lu didn’t hide away waiting to die. That shy kitten I knew came out of her shell. She suddenly decided to try the outside, sun bathing on the concrete, rolling around exposing her vulnerable white belly. Her last remnants of harshness faded too. She suddenly didn’t mind guests or children. She purred and cuddled more and more in between coughs that broke my heart. Then she began struggle to breathe. Lu hated vets, and after a traumatic trip to the ER it was clear she was suffering. Lu came home for one more night. She ate a huge meal and slept next to my bed, as she didn’t have the strength to get up. The next day she was put to sleep by the kindest vet I have ever met. She slipped away in a sunny spot in the kitchen while I held her, and Stu watched on. I have never seen her look so beautiful.
Stu and I loved her so much and we are both struggling being at home without her. Even when she was diagnosed, I had some delusion she would get better, because life without her didn’t seem possible. There are so many people I know she touched, her dad: David, Lil’ Laura, Willard, Mercy, Jason, Jenny, Susie, and I’m sure many more.