She was named for a peanut treat, but she was no buttercup.
She was sleek as onyx, but she was far more than semi-precious.
She was a single piece of the mosaic, but she brought peace far and wide.
She was Reese. She was ours. And we were hers.
Reese came to Tabby’s Place in the usual way, which is to say down rocky roads both familiar and personal.
When we first heard her name, the Special Needs cat had little to lose and everything to gain. Diabetes had dampened her hopes of adoption at a public shelter, where kisses are scarce for chocolate cats whose costs are high.
Reese pondered Tabby’s Place, pensive on arrival. With perfect posture and uncanny poise, she flinched for no one, steely self-confidence in a black-and-white gown.
Cats not named Reese were a bouncing box of Nerds. Humans hesitant to genuflect were Duds in need of direction. She was a little impatient, a lot intense, and above all, fighting for the cause of truth itself.
The truth is, love’s needs are always “special,” and the costs are always high.
The truth is, her heart was as sweet as her face was serious.
The truth is, Reese was a diamond, but she wanted to be a prism.
And so the chocolate-coating began.
You can always tell the fondue-fountain cats by the gooey eyes leaving their suites. One hug from Hips, and you think you’re the North Star. Thirty seconds with Baby, and life is thirty times more beautiful. One good head-bonk from Shifty, and every fear in your body shifts into joy. They are the gushers and the goofballs, the glonkers and the gumdrops.
Reese, refined and ladylike, was no gumdrop.
But a funny thing happened to everyone who happened to visit her.
They walked out shining. You could see it on their faces. You could hear it in their voices. You could read it doodled in their notebooks: ME + REESE = PB&J.
Snow-caps melted. Cold days got caramelized. Staff and volunteers streamed out of Reese’s river all radiant. The ladylike cat, without so much as a biscuit of bravado, made everyone love her.
She made everyone love themselves.
She made everyone love life, the bitter and the sweet.
She made her way, poised and posh, into everyone’s beam of light. You wouldn’t even know what she was up to.
Unlike, say, Boobalah, Reese was never gooey with her affections, not one to dunk you in jam or cloud your sky with spun sugar. But Reese was coating you in quiet kindness, coating herself in your light, and then turning positively prismatic.
Next thing you knew, there were rainbows streaming in all directions. It was as though someone had hung a tiny crystal heart in your window, just waiting for the sun.
Mercy had placed a gigantic diamond heart in your life. She was Reese. She was yours. And you were hers.
Over six and a half years at Tabby’s Place, Reese refracted the radiance of a hundred hearts. Few Tabby’s Place cats found such a following — not even the fondue-fountains, not even the classically-cute or the evidently-“easy.”
Reese, whose costs were high and whose pancreas was problematic, candied all expectations. Loving quietly, loving steadfastly, loving like no one on earth but herself, she gave us peace.
And then, she gave us concern.
Reese always had little to lose when it came to pounds. It’s a good thing that cats are composed of 49% irony, because Reese had a disease unfairly associated with obesity, but was personally as lithe as a licorice twist.
Tweaking her insulin kept the weight loss at bay for a time. Steroids padded her with a few plops of peanut butter. But ultimately, pounds kept chipping off the diamond. We were devastated to discover that Reese had inoperable cancer. We were going to lose her.
Reese wasn’t going to let us lose our peace.
Reese always knew she had little to lose and everything to gain. And even as she lost strength, she gained sweetness.
As one of the first cats to experience Quinn’s Corner, Reese feasted on solarium sunshine and whatever-you-wish smorgasbords. Even bitter-sweetness was worth closing her eyes to savor. A bony body could still bear uncanny poise. Full of grace, Reese would taste the fullness of her days.
Full of light, Reese would shine. Full of love, Reese would give.
And now it’s up to us to live Reesefully.
I won’t pretend we’re not in pieces today. If every loss is a quest to a far country, some roads are rockier than others. Losing Reese has meant losing a friend who fed us the truths that humans forget:
Love is costly.
Diamonds glitter, but prisms give.
You will never meet a living creature who is not a precious gem.
And if you’re going about your day, humdrum or heartsick, and suddenly feel chocolate-kissed by peace, Reese is still near you.
Someday we will know your light again, Reese. Until then, tender girl, serious girl, glorious girl, thank you for the sweetness.