My cat Bella had a traumatic day at the vets on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve — poked and prodded, ear drops, rabies shot, a needle the size of a harpoon plunged into her backside, but she did not utter a cry or bat an eye. To paraphrase Seamus Heaney in line 11 of his translation of Beowulf, referring to the Danish warrior Shield Sheafson, That was one good cat.*
Bella was brave, as my Susan was brave in those last days in Intensive Care. So, on this New Year’s Eve, as firecrackers exploded outside, I had this crazy 80-proof idea that Bella is now Susan or Susan is now Bella, not sure which way it goes, but she, Bella/Susan is all I have left in this lowly bungalow on County Road 9 and so she becomes my life—(obviously an over-exaggerated and melodramatic way to put it, but prithee, dear reader, permit me)—as Susan was for thirty years, and since Susan has been gone, a year now, an endless gods-torture of loss, I hang onto Bella/Susan with a crazy kind of madness and hope.
She is one good cat. Henceforth, despite the gender difference, she is now my Beowulf.
* Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf begins thusly:
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness. We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.
There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes. This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.