Forever Loved: Tortellini

Forever Loved: Tortellini

If Tabby’s Place could wrest control of the universe, our first decree would be the dismantling of feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

FeLV is no friend of ours. It is feared for a reason.

Yet without FeLV, we would never have met some of our best friends. Quinn’s Corner is our compromise with the condition we can’t yet conquer.

Derby, Durin, Puff and company are love’s answers while we still have so many questions. They bust myths. They delight in each other, and in us. They clear the mist and lick away tears.

They make it easy to forget that FeLV is formidable. And then, the hands of fear drop through the ceiling.

Of all our FeLV+ phenoms, it had to be tiny Tortellini. Her name was fitting, but it is only a coincidence that she was a tortoiseshell.

Tortellini, like her namesake, was a circle of cheer. One tortellini is the happy pasta, crammed with ricotta. One Tortellini was the happy cat who gobbled hours, packing each day with years.

Tortellini bobbed in the broth of the moment. This time together was a gift from FeLV’s trembling hand, and Torti would not turn it away. She was happy just to be here with us. She was as gentle as the single perfect afternoon that you remember your whole life.

Tortellini told us there are wondrous surprises inside ordinary things.

Tortellini was impish and astonished.

Tortellini was a lithe little cat, filled fat with life.

Tortellini should not have fallen ill, her golden flecks vanishing into the horrid hand of FeLV. Sudden sickness is the thing we fear most for our “felvies.” It is the thing we merrily forget to fear when Oram and Tucker fly like flung fusilli across the lobby.

But the loveliest little cat, plump and perfect with promise, burned with fever.

Our valiant vet team battled Torti’s temperature down. We all promised we would not leave her. We wedded our hearts to hers, in the way that only comes through mingled tears. Our tireless staff wore Tortellini’s ring. Their hearts took her rhythm. We all breathed as one.

Tortellini lived, and we grew gluttonous for hope. We drooled over the menu of tomorrows. We told Tortellini about saucy volunteers and maple syrup visitors and, someday, a honey-glazed adopter of her own.

We told ourselves the trouble was past, and the virus was vanquished. Tortellini would run rings around her diagnosis for years to come.

It was not to be.

Tortellini’s body boiled over, and her temperature and blood pressure plunged. There was only one mercy left. If we loved her, we would free her from the fight. She had a feast to attend beyond our vision. We wept and wept and gave thanks for the terrible gift that gave us Tortellini.

If Tabby’s Place wrote the recipe, we would erase the letters F-e-L-V forever. But here in the stew pot, we have choices, not control. We can curse the conditions and close our lids to love. We can grow thick gristle over our soft, good hearts.

That would be to live in loss, long before it happens.

Or we can accept the gifts that scald us. We can wear love’s ring, knowing it is engraved with loss. We can stumble, hungry, to the table where everyone we ever loved is still present. Somehow.

Until we meet again, beautiful girl, thank you for filling our hearts. You are ours. We are yours. The worst was worth it. May the circle be unbroken.

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