Every time I was distressed, away from home, I thought about my soul curled under the coffee table. Or on the couch. Or at the foot of the bed. It was a comfort to believe that he was safe at home, and a relief to find it to be true.
As near as the veterinarian could tell, he was born the same week as I put down my first cat. It wasn't anything I wanted to do, but no one would adopt a thirteen year old cat with occasional marking issues, and since home had already left me I couldn't leave her behind.
The calendar was unforgiving as we crept towards the day that our home would be gone; I'd already had it on the market, been doing work on it for the sale. My birthday in early summer, coinciding with graduation, was our deadline.
I put her down on the Ides of March. I couldn't think of a better date for betraying her trust. She would have lived at least a few more years, and for lack of imagination I failed to take her with me. My sister and one of my best friends came with me to the vet, and I asked them to leave the room at the end. The vet shaved a patch on her front leg and gave her the injection. I stroked her head the entire time. Her heart stopped while I was there, and I stood stone-faced. The vet took her body and asked me to leave. I drove home. In my bedroom, I cried alone for her. I have her ashes now.
A thousand miles away, The Admiral was born. I wouldn't meet him for a year and a half; an epoch full of failures and successes, and after the former a lot of suffering and bloodletting. But from the first minute, he was mine, and has stood by me every day since. My heart aches to be away. Such loyalty is simply not found.
A thousand years later, he's getting old. He's tired and doesn't like to walk even around the small apartment we share. Nothing's really wrong yet, but my friends' experiences with their older cats are a constant reminder that the clock is winding down.
I don't think I'll like me very much when he's gone.