I met a cat.
I was told her name is Shadow. I don't know for sure how she got the same, but Shadow it is.
The thing I noticed most about her when I met her was how loud she was, not just her meow but her purr, how insistent she was about attention, how no amount of holding was ever enough, no amount of petting was ever too much.
In other words, she was a pest. A very sweet, affectionate, loveable pest, but a pest. A pest of the sort you finally had to chase away in order to go to sleep - only to wake up later and find her under the covers and starting to purr and as soon as she realized you were awake. A pest.
That was about 12 years ago.
She died last night.
It was no surprise: We knew she was failing. She'd been failing for months. She had lost her meow and she had started keeping to herself for the most part. She pretty much stopped grooming herself. She would be content and purring (quietly) if you picked her up or held her or petted her, but she didn't come looking for attention the way she had almost her whole life. She was drinking little and eating less. There were a couple of times we thought she wouldn't make it through the night - but she always did. Until last night.
The embarrassing thing for me here is that at one time I made my living as a photographer - but I have no picture of Shadow to show you. So I'll have to try to describe her. She was a Persian-American Shorthair mix, making her a house cat but with an extra-thick, soft coat. She was tricolor but not calico: She was mostly brownish gray with some black streaks and some flecks of gray. And she was just shy of 16. A fairly ripe age - but not long enough. Not for a loveable pest.
People who don't have pets don't understand how much a part of your life that animal becomes, how much a part of your family it is. And when they are gone, there is a hole there. I'm not going to suggest that hole is anywhere near as big as the hole left by the loss of a spouse or a parent or a sibling or a child - but I am going to say that it is undeniably there.
Shadow had been a presence in my life and my home for over 12 years. And now she's not. And there is, right now, a Shadow-shaped hole in my life.
So I just wanted to say RIP, Shadow.