It's been over 2 weeks, now, since we said goodbye. It is never easy to write these, but this one is particularly difficult, because we loved her so long and so deeply. Valourie, or Val for short, did not have a lot of aliases. Just a softly-sung "little black cat", and the title of "Beautiful Beautiful". I did not think she was beautiful, at first; I thought her face was too pointy, but Akai was wiser.
We had not planned on getting this cat when we went to pick up our order at Pizza Hut, but there she was in the parking lot. Scattered cat food cans in the bushes showed that someone had been feeding the stray. I picked up the pizza, and Akai picked up the cat and refused to put her down. She was a skinny black teen-kitten with a little white bikini-mark, and she showed zero interest in being anywhere but in Akai's arms. We had already put in an order for a kitten from Siamese rescue, but Akai was immune to reason.
While we stood there, a tough-looking Hispanic teen approached (the Pizza Hut wasn't in a great part of town) and greeted us with: "You taking my kitten, man?" We admitted that it looked like we were, and he looked relieved. He explained that he had been feeding her and was glad she would be going to a good home. One of my characters is a tough little Hispanic teen named Sanchez, so we joked that since we had Sanchez's blessing, what could go wrong?
For the next 19 years, Val ruled the household as undisputed queen. She loved us both, but Akai was her special person, from the moment they met. Val was sweet and loving and gentle and self-possessed and smart and sleek and silky and graceful. She was death on mice, an efficient and stealthy huntress. She was forgiving when we had to go away and leave her for a few days, or when we had to take her in the car; she was always glad to see us and was never moody or hostile. Her typical greeting was to head-butt you right in the face. I miss that.
Val seldom had to resort to violence to get her way; she was subtler than that. I recall watching her take possession of a favorite chair by just going over to it and quietly staring at the cat in residence until he, feeling her eyes upon him, was so unnerved he couldn't stay and had to hop down, whereupon she promptly took his place on the warm cushion. It was a masterful performance.
Neither of us has ever regretted our long-ago choice to share our lives with non-human creatures, and to give our hearts to them fully, despite the pain that inevitably, eventually, comes with that covenant. We feel ourselves fortunate to have had our lives so greatly enriched.
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