No day that begins with a pet...a companion...dying in your arms is going to be a good day.
He was 17 years old, and his name was Blazer. Don't laugh, he was named by a six year-old boy.
Blazer belonged to my children from the time they got him and his sister Stripes in the summer of 1997 until they moved to Indiana with their mother in 2003. They asked me if I'd keep him when their landlord said the dogs would be okay but the cat would have to be declawed.
Blazer moved in with me that July.
Lisa and I were still dating long distance then. She fell in love with Blazer very quickly, and he returned her devotion. We were already a family before Lisa and I married; we even had a catchphrase -- "Oops, he fell." Ask me privately about this, and I may even tell you the truth.
Blazer once made his name literal. Lisa and I had been married about 6 months, and I was sent off for a week's training for work. I was on my way home, from Boston if memory serves, and Lisa was going through our mail. She had one of those huge three wick candles lit on the once-upon-a-time dining room table that we used as my computer desk, and Blazer kept jumping up on the table, sticking his head between her and the pile of mail. Lisa put him down on the floor, and Blazer jumped back up. After several repetitions, Lisa smelled something. Blazer's tail was smack dab in one of the candle flames, on fire. Apparently cats, or at least this one, have no feeling in their tails, because he just kept sitting there. Lisa shrieked, which panicked Blazer, and he took off down the hall. Lisa was able to douse Blazer's tail quickly, but we did smell singed cat fur for several days.
As Blazer got older, we worried about him being alone so much when we were both at work. That lead to Tempe joining our family. Tempe wasn't completely as we were told, but Blazer soon established himself as top cat.
This held true, even with the addition of Ollie and her kittens -- Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny; we're fans of The Big Bang Theory -- to the family.
As happens to us all, Blazer slowed down in the following four years. He spent more time lying in the sun and less cuffing impudent youngsters testing the pecking order. He no longer jumped as high, but he yowled louder than ever when he'd come downstairs from raiding the laundry hamper, trailing a sock for us to play with.
I won't go into detail concerning Blazer's decline over the last month. I'll just celebrate the memory of the connection he gave me to my children over the last 11 years, and of the deep affection he and Lisa shared. I'll imagine that he is now somewhere lazing in a warm patch of sunlight, saving his energy for a hunt. And I'll feel a small cat-shaped hole in my soul for a while.