Her name was Zoe. She was 5 years and 9 months old to the day. She was a beautiful calico cat, and we loved her with all our hearts. She slept in Gracie's bed every night, and could be counted on for a soft meow each morning as I stood waiting for my coffee. It was her way of reminding me that she needed her morning treat.
She was, in short, the perfect cat. No biting, scratching or hissing even when a 4 year old Grace carried her around with both arms clenched around Zoe's neck until we could rescue her. She always snuggled up with me on the couch, stretched out along my side and purring gently. She cried when she accidentally found herself outside. She loved to be scratched under her chin and around her ears.
There could be ten kids running in and out of the house, and she would calmly sit in the middle of the floor without flinching. She knew she was safe because we loved her and protected her. She never resisted being held, even when you could tell that she really, really wanted to get down and would stay calmly in our arms until we were ready to let go.
Except today we had to let her go in spite of the fact that we weren't ready. She was sick and in pain, and the kindest thing we could do was to release her. So she trustingly snuggled in my arms one last time as the veterinarian gave the injection, and she peacefully slipped away as we cried. We wept for our loss and for the knowledge that we would never have another pet quite like her.
We brought her home and buried her in the corner of the yard, near the birdhouse. Nathan helped fill in the tiny grave, and Gracie left flowers on the dark mound of loose dirt. The house seems empty, and I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. Gracie left the door open, and I had to catch myself from saying, "Close that door or Zoe will get out!"
A cat shaped indention is still on the cushion of the couch, and her scratching post stands unused. I never imagined that losing a pet would affect us like this, and my emotions feel so raw. But I know that it will get better...it just has to.