I was beside myself with despair and hopelessness when BeBe was diagnosed with lymphoma. I couldn't bear the thought of losing him, yet could not afford his treatments. In 1995, we found BeBe, and his brother Ziggy, in a box between buildings on NYC's Lower East Side, when they were tiny kittens. This past January, 2010, Ziggy died a month after showing signs of what was either very sudden and advanced lymphoma or heart disease. We could not afford the diagnostic tests, but were told that either way, there was not any effective treatment for him at that stage of illness. Previously, Ziggy had not been sick a day in his life.

BeBe, however, had been showing signs of illness for a few years – fevers, weight loss, and, most disturbing, open sores on his leg — before being diagnosed with lymphoma. Despite his physical discomfort, he continued being a deep source of love and companionship. So much so that he inspired me to write a book about the meaning of his love.

I am almost finished writing and editing it, and have promised him, and myself, that I will complete it while he is still with me.

I cannot thank you enough for donating the money for BeBe's continued care. In his quiet, steady way, he is a beacon of light. My family has had a lot of loss this year — emotionally and financially —and your act of kindness, Dr. Varis,  . . . leaves me dumbfounded, shaking my head in disbelief, brings tears to my eyes, opens my heart with gratitude. I am so grateful. Thank you.

The funds paired with the care BeBe is receiving from Dr. Oberthaler complete the blessing. At our first appointment, I thought I was there to learn how to best care for my beloved boy, and keep him pain free as the lymphoma took over and ended his life. Instead, I was given an optimistic view and encouragement. Dr. Oberthaler's generosity of services for him are matched by her generosity of spirit — she saw how sweet he is, even though he growled during the entire exam!

I have hope that we will have a few more years together learning about life and love.

With love,

Ellen Bowkett & BeBe Begonia

P.S. From the book’s intro: BeBe Begonia, Begonia Boy, Sweet Boy, Love Boy, My Boy, Buddy, My Buddy, Buddy Boy, Buddy Biscuit, Biscuit, Biscuit Boy, Bisci - lious, Beeb, Beeb Boy, Beeb-let, Sweet Beeb, Sweet Cheeks, Sweet Heart, Sweet Boy, Sweet Handsome Love Cat, Secret Weapon Love Cat, my boy, my buddy, my heart. I feel like a Muslim reciting the 99 names of Allah in hopes of entering paradise.

My Sweet Love BeBe Begonia Boy, over and over again allows my heart to pour towards him. He doesn’t need to spend the day showing me that he loves me. He has other things to do, like spending hours curled up on the bed, by my pillow. When he awakens, he needs to stretches his front paws far out in front of him, and then his rear legs far out behind him before heading to his food bowl. He leaves a warm, circular imprint in the blanket. Sometimes I touch the spot just to enjoy the warmth he leaves behind. Why does the lingering of his presence touch my heart? I don't walk around all day thinking, "Isn't he cute?" Or say, "Aww, look at that!," because this is not a crush. This is something else. This goes deeper than my brain, and my words are feeble in its presence, leaving me repeating myself, leaving me treading the same short path of endearments over and over, again, not making headway, not getting ahead, not getting to the bottom of the meaning of BeBe, the Tao of BeBe.