I have spent almost two years in the company of Jack. I did not know he was to become part of my life. I had not expected to love him. He was the cherry on my sundae, the fortune in my cookie, the free gift with purchase. Jack is 1000 years old, and I am keenly aware of this. As I did not know I was acquiring a cat, when I found this new life, with my new love, his acceptance, nay love, of me, has been a sweet and welcome bonus. He is not a busy or demanding cat, preferring to find a "spot" and occupy it for days, stirring only for meals and bathroom breaks. But he does have two demands, my lap, every morning, during the coffee ritual, and my lap, all other times of the day, if I happen to open up a laptop or iPad....There was a period of time when he helped me make the bed every morning, dancing beneath the top sheet and correcting my pillow fluffing by jumping on top of each newly poofed perch and flattening it "just so". Then there was his idyll as "laundry cat" when fluff and fold was the game of the century, with bookies and side bets being made in response to his mad drawstring swiping skills. But these days, now retired from the action, Jack prefers the soft spots on the couch, the bed, my thighs, a box, and the toy swiping is a rare but well-celebrated event. Like me, like all of us, his days are numbered. While mine, hopefully, still number in the thousands, many thousands, his are in the hundreds, maybe only dozens. And every time he insists on my lap, however inconvenient, I offer it up gladly. Because next year, next month, sadly even, next week, he may not be here to insist, and my lap, and I, will be forever missing him. There are and most likely will be, other cats for my lap to enjoy, but not this one, not this fantastic and unimaginable combination of atoms and mystery, that found their way to create him, and then found their way to me. He didn't have to like me, he didn't have to love me, he didn't have to become the most glorious boy that he is, but in the supremely wonderful randomness that is this life, he did, and here we are, luckily, for this day, in each others company. He, purring, with his head on my thigh, I, smiling, with my hand in his fur and we, enjoying this fleeting and sublimely transient moment, together. I am fully aware of how few these moments are, and I intend to observe and celebrate each one. For they will never come again.
The last time I saw my dogs, I lied to them. I told them I would see them again. I told them I was not leaving forever, I told them I would be back for them. I didn't know if it was true, but I could not bring myself to imagine that I would not see their faces again. I had 10 years with them, annoyed, undone, smitten, smothered and in love, but I never once thought it would end, and I did not celebrate, or relish the moments as I should have. I still have no idea if I will ever, ever see their faces again. I regret every lost moment, every reverie I ignored. For they will never come again.
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