Balka was/is my beloved soulmate, familiar, and friend. When her six pounds of flesh filled with infinite love rested on top of my chest, those were the most relaxed states I’ve ever known. For our sixteen years together, everywhere I sat or laid she was there; any nook or bend of my body she positioned herself to complete the puzzle. She was a constant companion comforting me like no other.
August of 2004, I was asleep in my second floor Hollywood apartment, the sliding door to the balcony slightly open welcoming in any summer breezes. Around 3am I awoke to a pad pad pad around my head. A sweet little black cat had entered through my balcony! 1745 North Orange Drive, apartment #234 would never be the same. Nor would my life.
We were custom cuddlers from day one, her delicate yet strong paws kneading my body before making a few turns and arranging her sleek self in a perfect circle on my tummy. She’d burrow under the covers so just both of our heads were peeking out from the soft, cozy blankets. The little sprite kept coming back into the apartment and was very thin so I began feeding her.
About a week into our relationship I decided I needed to find out if she was with anyone else so I wrote a note, hole punched the folded paper, and threaded a piece of yarn around her collar free neck. “If this is your cat, please claim her.” I thank all the stars on nearby Hollywood Boulevard and the Universe nobody responded.
As she came in through the balcony…her name became Balka. I made the “C” a “K” as she had a sophisticated Eastern European vibe and the “K” felt sexier for some reason. She was probably around two years old and already spayed, and we were together through my potently formative ages of 23-39 years. Balka Bartholomew Balky Balkanese Black Velvet (sooooo many endearing nicknames from me as well as friends who loved her) and I lived in eleven different homes together.
She shepherded me through changes in locations, relationships, and careers. She was my sidekick through joys, accomplishments, and epiphanies as well as heartache, loneliness, and disappointments. Sensitive, nonjudgmental, and present…a steadfast teacher sun bathing on pink princess pillows. The responsibility and unconditional love we shared revealed for me on a visceral level my deep desire to be a mother for human children.
Balka was a healer kitty. If I had an ailment, she would go right to the troublesome spot and use her snuggly body to help me feel better. I suffered from two incredibly painful kidney infections during our years together, and for days on end laid on my stomach as she radiated warm vibrations onto my aching organs.
In 2009 I had the swine flu which took me down for two weeks. I was reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” by Michael Pollan before sweating out my mattress and hallucinating due to high fevers took precedence. Of course Balka was by my side. It was during this trippy time I made the connection of the consciousness of her, a cat I loved dearly, and anonymous farm animals. And that was the end of my meat eating days.
Balka, this evolved star cat, looked out for me and planted seeds of awareness inside our intertwined souls. She was the throughline in my life, from leaving my family of origin in Texas to creating my own family in California. She witnessed and guided me in ways that are impossible to explain in my spiritual journey, marriage, and writing my book “ChakWave: An Intentional Cleanse for Body, Mind, and Spirit.”
She was protective of my pregnancies and welcomed our daughters after their births. Countless hours were spent baby breastfeeding Tetrised in the midst of husband and kids in a myriad of cuddle configurations.
Balka was an adventurer, freely roaming in and out, and when we lived in places with access to nature she didn’t even require a litter box. From Hollywood (balcony!) to Mammoth Lakes (snow!) to Santa Monica and Venice Beach (yards and cat doors!) to San Francisco (babies and city views!) she made each dwelling her own. My parents gave me a note pad that said, “A house is not a home without a cat” and it was true.
In 2017 she had a kidney crisis that landed her (and all of us) in the ICU for three days of intense antibiotics and fluids. Ever since that traumatic event subcutaneous fluids administered every few days were essential for her survival and well-being. We soaked up our “bonus time” together, joyful laughter with the kids as well as quiet snuggles where time seemed to peacefully pause.
Her kidney disease progressed from stage 3 to 4, a heart murmur was present, and then a neurological episode took away her mobility. We were loving and cuddling until the very end of this fleshly go round, and she took her last breath in my arms. The tears have been flowing and my gratitude growing. She helped me come into my power, and I trust she thought I was ready for life’s next chapter. So with much transformative sadness alongside deep reverence for Balka’s life, I say goodbye until we reunite again.