My cat Daphne, who remained living with my dad and Melissa when I moved away, passed away this morning. She was a wonderful calico with the sweetest little meow and soft-as-a-bunny fur. I would pet her until she drooled and flomped over and then I’d pet her some more. I picked Daphne out from the Cat Lady’s house because she looked like the gentlest and perhaps least intelligent of the bunch, and therefore the least likely to find a home. And she was pretty slow, but what she lacked in brain cells she made up for in devotion.

Now all three of my cats from that phase of my life – Sadie, Bianca, and Daphne – are gone. Sadie reminded me of a (more) neurotic Zen. She was a jittery, bony little tortoiseshell with weepy eyes we could never seem to wipe enough. I picked Sadie out with almost no deliberation from the Cat Lady’s house. Sadie and I had had a moment, you see, green eyes to hazel; she looked terrified by life and I knew we could love her enough to make her relax. And we did.

Bianca, conversely, was a chubby socialite with jet-black fur. She loved everyone and everything. Her meows echoed throughout the small house as she pontificated night after night. When I would cry, Bianca would be there to pat my tears with a delicate paw until I stopped. Bianca and Daphne were inseparable, snuggling in every comfy chair, with Sadie ever watching over them from a safe distance, usually from the top of bookcases. Sadie died first, and the other two were vaguely confused for a while about where their gargoyle had gone. But after Bianca died, Daphne was just not the same. After Bianca died, none of us were the same, really.

Now just Gracie, the black lab of my heart, is left. Sure, there are two new cats there, and I like them very much, but since they were found after I moved out, they’ve never been my pets. Gracie is different. She was the first and only puppy I’ve ever had, and the creature who proved to me that I’m not just a cat person. Right after we got her home, I gave her a bath in Melissa’s favorite bread bowl. Melissa was horrified, the cats were unsettled, and I was in love.

When I come home to visit, Gracie bounds out to greet me, gripping my wrist in her mouth and whining as if she were still that puppy from years ago. She won’t let me go for hours. When she finally calms down enough I can look at the tiny white hairs spotting her muzzle and tummy, and I can feel something inside slowly filling up. The something inside will be knocked over someday. I don’t like to think about that very much.

Goodnight, dearest Daphne. I won’t forget the denture-clacking noise you made while watching the sparrows out back, and I won’t forget your warm bulk against my chest as we napped in the sun. Be with your sisters now.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.