A Love Story. Relating With Beloved Animals After They Pass.


My home office overlooks my driveway and a long, narrow sidewalk flower garden, and a window box of marigolds. The morning of this writing, I worked on the book I’m writing (for women who have been married multiple times). and outside my window, a hummingbird hovered and drank.

The moment this hummingbird appeared, my thoughts turned to my beloved cat Bella, who died this past summer. The odd thought crossed my mind that she was using the hummingbird’s eyes to see me and say hello. Without stopping to consider whether that line of thinking was plausible, I felt completely thrilled, as if I she had come to see me.

If that sounds weird, it probably is a little “‘out there,” but the timing, the specific idea that entered my head — all of it happened so fast that I was happily swept into it, and I didn’t mind one bit.

I wanted to be with Bella again however I could, even if it meant thinking she was saying hello through a hummingbird.

By the way, here’s where I stand on the subject of one’s imagination: If what you’re imagining makes you happy, go ahead and imagine!

I followed my own advice. It was soul-satisfying to believe I could communicate with her again.


Bella was the most cat a cat could ever be. She was also (I swear) the healthiest hunter cat that ever lived. But after she had been missing 48 hours, a neighbor found her by their hydrangea bush without a mark on her.

Huntress Bella

Maybe she ate the hydrangea, which is poisonous to cats. I find that possibility somewhat unlikely, because Bella was smart about plants. She did, however, graze on green things, and she died by the hydrangea, which leaves one to wonder.

Another possible cause of her death could involve snakes. She was not afraid of them and would bring baby black snakes onto our porch to play with. Maybe she played with the wrong kind of snake (near the hydrangea? or she made it as far as the hydrangea after her snake encounter?) If so, maybe Bella will remember to leave snakes alone in her next life.

In any case, there I was, typing happily along with a busy, hungry hummingbird outside my window, thinking about Bella saying hello to me.


Feeling playful, I began to talk to Bella, the hummingbird. “Hi, Bella! Is that you? When you’re done drinking your breakfast, maybe you could let me know it’s really you.”

I went back to typing.

There was a flurry of movement out of the corner of my left eye, and I turned to see the hummingbird rising up up from the window box into the arch of the window where there was no screen (just glass). Eye-to-eye contact was crystal clear.

Quizzical “What-do-ya-mean-by-that” Bella

My heart soared! 

The hummingbird hovered for a few seconds right in the middle of the arch (as if to say “watch me”) and then did this splendid thing! This gorgeous winged creature traveled from left to right (slowly and deliberately) three times, a full 15 seconds. It was enough to send me straight to bliss, and then it flew away! 

The flying pattern was so precise and deliberate, there was no question in my mind that Bella was saying hello!

About 30 minutes later, I stopped working on my book long enough to type up this story. During the time I was writing about Bella the hummingbird, it returned twice, repeating the exact same communication in the arch of the window, moving side to side with deliberate precision, filling me with faith that there is no such thing as Bella “gone.”

It felt wonderful to think Bella-Bella could talk to me (and I could hear her) even though she dropped her perfect little gray cat body.


I had one other Bella encounter.

As we leave our home, first, there’s an incline, and then the road heads down the mountain as we approach a neighboring property where the owner lets us garden. 

This particular day as I left home, I was actively thinking about Bella, especially about how she had gone on daily walks with us on this road. She had a Bella style about walking with us, of course!

She joined us predictably, like a loyal dog, happy to go on a walk. She would even join us mid-walk if she was out and about in the neighborhood and spotted us on the road. Her style was to either track us off in the side shadows or go flying ahead right down the middle of the road.

Watching her run was totally thrilling.

She didn’t really run, she leaped as if she weighed nothing at all. It was a beautiful thing to witness, and her leaping would tease me in the direction of the song  “I Believe I Can Fly.” Or I’d think about how levitation works or about the unlimited essence of each of us, all because of Bella and her leaping.

As I approached the garden property in my car, my thoughts turning to the many happy hours she spent with us gardening, I spotted a buck on the far side of the garden! The buck stopped in his tracks and looked straight at me.

Camouflage Bella

Deer are actually a rare sight on our mountain. They venture to our road when the crab apples ripen, but upon seeing humans, flee immediately. 

This buck remained still as I approached in my car, his head high, looking squarely at me. My first thought was, “Bella is that you?” and said it out loud as I slowed my car. I exclaimed to her how nice it was to see her at the garden, a place I know she loved.

The buck remained perfectly, miraculously motionless.

I kept talking to Bella softly from my car. The buck never once turned his head away from me, or even nibbled a leaf. I don’t even think he blinked. He simply looked straight at me, full on, without moving. I turned into the lane by the garden to get closer and wondered if he would allow that. 

He did.

I rolled down my window and kept up the Bella love chat for a good long minute. (That’s a long time for direct eye contact with a wild creature with antlers!)

I gushed to Bella about how much we loved her and enjoyed her presence. I told her all the things we loved about her. I told her how we adored that she was a talker! (She’d come in and out of our house, talking endlessly about her adventures, and we’d talk back until she was done.)

I told her there was a lot I missed about her, but I hadn’t missed the feathers in the living room or the rabbit tails or the chipmunks running for their lives. And I told her I didn’t miss the midnight mice (she’d bring them in while we were sleeping to have something to play with.) I told her I didn’t miss the messes, but I did miss her.


Baby Bella

I went on and on, but as the conversation slowed, just for fun (couldn’t help myself) I said, “Bella, show me it’s you.”

With that, the buck tossed his head, nose in the air, and pranced. He did not run. Or turn his head away. He danced!

It reminded me of the way Bella would enter our house after a great day outside. She’d meow coming up the stairs, “I’m here! I’m here! Let’s talk!” and enter with head up, tail up, everything lifted on her gray dancing feet. We’d stop everything we were doing to exclaim about her gorgeousness and have a lavish conversation. 

Gradually, the buck faded into the leaves. I sat in my car, weeping with happiness to spend those beautiful minutes with the Bella-Bella girl. So lovely to notice I can be with her again!


Since those two encounters, I’ve decided that Bella is everywhere, and I can be with her any time. She’s in the red sunrise, she’s in the light that shoots all the way across our sky, painting the morning clouds pink.

She’s in the shimmering Fall leaves, in the sound of many Unity voices singing on a Sunday morning, and most of all in my heart.

I truly carry the gray girl in my heart.


Bella the cat, communicating with animals, In Care of Relationships, Terri Crosby

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