Many of you may know from other sources that Chim Chum is based on my cat, Isabella, and I’m the Portly Samurai. Over the years, “Bella” has been the inspiration for many of my comics. She’s often been found cuddled up next to me on the couch while I sketch that day’s funny page.

On February 6, 2014, Bella succumbed to liver failure at the respectable but much-too-young-for-us age of 13. She was surrounded by the people that loved her most, who comforted her and gently helped her take that last step to heaven.

Losing Bella has been extremely difficult for me. My wife and I adopted Bella when she was about eight weeks old. We were in a rough place emotionally, not being able to have children, and Bella really was our daughter. On her first night in our house, she jumped up on the bed and crawled under the covers with us. It was a perfect match.

Over the years, Bella’s been there for us in our saddest and most joyous moments. Every room in our house is filled to the brim with happy memories of her activities, from meowing on cue to sitting on my hip while I tried to fall asleep at night.

Bella was my constant companion. She was, to me, the perfect example of God’s grace. I’ve learned through her that the love you give an animal comes back to you tenfold. Because of her I have become an advocate for animal rights, especially when it comes to showing mercy and dignity to the creatures we’re blessed to share the earth with.

My grief has been very painful over losing my little princess. I’m comfortable saying this, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The hardest part about grieving has been dealing with the people in my life that have decided it’s not a big deal. Fortunately, others have stepped up to fill the support void.

On the day Bella died, I talked to my mom about how awful it felt to lose her. She told me Bella would never be gone because I have a talent that can keep her memory alive. I’m so thankful she gave me that advice! It made a huge difference for my mourning process, and has enabled me to do something positive with my pain.

So, enjoy Chim Chum and the Portly Samurai knowing it’s created out of a special love for a little grey cat with a huge personality. And, if you feel so inspired, please consider adopting a pet from a local shelter, or, barring that, donate time or money. It’s an amazing cause!

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