She was born in December so the name was appropriate and the special spirit she embodied was most definitely comparable to the joy of the Christmas season.
I had been researching cats for quite some time and finally had decided on a Devon Rex. I was intrigued by the elfish appearance, small size and the wavy coat. I had never seen any cat quite like them. So…after much deliberation, I began searching for a breeder and found my next feline companion among a litter in Florida, many hours from where our family lived. Little did I know how special she would be.
Noel’s life with our family began with a long trip home to Mississippi. She was a bit overwhelmed but handled the situation well and thus our relationship, that would span almost 19 years, began. She was a bit shy at first but soon came out of her shell and was so sweet and playful as a kitten. She loved her cat toys but she loved me more. She would quickly give up the toys for a chance to curl up in my lap for a long, peaceful nap.
Life with our family could be a bit chaotic, to say the least, but Noel handled it as well as could be expected. Birds, dogs, another cat, 3 rowdy boys and a couple of grandchildren later on…it was quite a lot for the little white elf of a cat. She kept her distance when the going got tough but was always quick to come around when she saw an opportunity to snuggle up with a napping dog or a ‘finally still’ kid watching TV. I think her favorite thing to do was observe her human and non-human family members in hopes of a bit of calm.
A few years after Noel came along, I found myself in need of heart surgery that would turn into several weeks of recovery time. Nothing could have pleased Noel more…not that I was in need of surgery but the opportunity to look after me every minute of every day following that surgery. She never left my side when I was in bed…I can’t even remember her getting up to eat or visit her litter box except when I was out of bed as well. When I moved to the sofa or recliner for a change of scenery, she was right there with me, almost immediately.
During my weeks of recovery, 9/11 happened. Just as many other Americans, I will never forget where I was and the unsettled feeling I had on that morning. I was sitting in the recliner, having my morning coffee and watching the daily news. As always, Noel was right there by my side when the regular broadcast was interrupted with the announcement that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At first, the reporters were talking as if it was just a horrible accident…they were on the scene quickly and people were running everywhere. Suddenly, during the live broadcast, a plane could be seen flying in the same WTC area directly behind the reporter. I was confused for a minute…is this a replay of the plane crashing into the building and they just decided to show it during the live broadcast, I wondered? My question was quickly answered when another reporter yells on live TV that there’s a second plane and it appears to be headed directly toward the other World Trade Center Building. The rest is history….horrible history that many of us will never, ever forget.
There would be many more marked occasions where Noel was right by my side but none more memorable than these. She was more than a cat…she was my calm during the storms of life…my heart purr….my friend. She died peacefully, wrapped in a blanket and lying right by my side…the only place she ever wanted to be. I will love and miss her forever.