Earlier this month, to our deep, deep heartache, we had to say goodbye to our darling, most wonderful muse, Schala.
I've written before about how much Schala has meant to me, as a furry feline companion and as a creative encouragement. She curled up next to me during my writing times, sitting in my lap or perching on my shoulder. She was part of every book, every short story, every piece of related artwork: a constant and reliable muse, indeed.
Schala was so important to me, and her presence so meaningful to my work, that in 2020 I officially added her to my canon as the silver desert caracal, Sadira's familiar, in my Beast and Beauty series. Though the real Schala was a tender, mild-mannered beanie baby in her later years, her fantasy counterpart carried all the wild courage and warrior spirit in her beautiful heart.
But she was far more than a constant creative partner: in her nineteen years with us, she was an emotional support cat during my struggles with mental health; she was a tough, guardian attack cat who boxed rats to death and drove out unfriendly pests; she was mama to all our various furkids, nurturing and loving and protecting them. She even helped with the laundry.
It's hard to imagine life without our sweet Little Bit. She's been with us since before we were married. She will always be the best thing we ever brought home from Walmart, that's for sure. She leaves a hole in our hearts that no other creature can ever fill.
She passed away at home, surrounded by her siblings and held by her mama and daddy, and I'm assured she was in no pain. We had her cremated, and her ashes now rest with her big sister Anya, and her dog-son Ninook, whom we lost last year. I've saved a tiny amount of her ashes in a memorial pendant, close to my heart.
I'll always miss you, sweet Schala, my little schmelly belly. There will never be another like you, and our home, our Strange Waystation, will never be the same without you in it.
I will always be grateful for the blessing of you in my life.