I don't know where to start. Has it really been 17 years?
There are the memories of building pillow forts for you when I was a child, where you would be the princess and I would keep you safe in the kingdom of pillows and blankets and sheets held up by old dining chairs. You were just glad to be in someone's company, I think. And you always loved a good neck scratch. I hope you felt safe, and secure after all of these years. I hope you know how much I love you.
Then there are the memories where I would sing to you. Just little lullabies and silly songs to comfort you. Sometimes it would make you fall asleep. You Are My Sunshine was one that I sung to you often. You would try so hard to stay awake, to make sure I was still with you, until your head became so heavy and you couldn't help but close your eyes and fall fast asleep. You grew so tired toward the end, and only in the past year or so did I start singing to you. I'd lightly put my ear to your side and that would be all it took for you to start purring. I miss the sound already.
Both of these memories are so many years apart, but they're special because they're with you. Just being with you has made so many years of my life so special, so worth it, and all I want to say is thank you. I was almost four when you first came into my life. In a way, we grew up together. Over the past 17 years, I cannot remember a time that you weren't ever here. I don't remember my life before you. I don't know what my life will be like without you. You were always here.
One thing I loved were the moments we shared when you laid still upon my chest, purring. And I remember feeling and hearing the purr along with my heart beating. I think the sound comforted both of us. I remember being told, from those who remember it directly, about the time we first met you, how you were nicknamed, 'Purr Monster' by everyone at the adoption center because of how loud (and how much) you purred. I just want to hear you again.
"How did we get here?"
On one of your last days, I laid beside you, rubbing your head, and I kept asking you this. Asking myself, really. It felt as if one moment you were just a kitten climbing trees and leaving your 'presents' under the Christmas tree every year, playing with colorful ponytail holders (what we called 'scrunchies'), and sitting everywhere and anywhere if you fit. Like the bathroom sink, the old wicker looking basket we had, and the pull out drawer under one of the beds. And then the next moment, you were dying.
Of course, your aging was gradual. But until the very end, everything just seemed to have gone by so fast. I guess time can do that. We got into so many things together, so many shenanigans and moments full of laughter - kid and kitten. So many tears I've shed, so many times you've been a light when everything felt dark. It seemed like we were always together. You were so used to doing things, and then you realized you just couldn't do them anymore. Still, you were you until the end. Everyone knew how sassy you were. But you were so sweet to everyone who got to know you. And you were always there for me. You were my sunshine.
Then it got to me becoming your caregiver, more or less. You allowed me to help, though I know it must've been so hard for you. I knew it was getting worse when you needed help getting onto the bathroom sink for water. Then you needed help getting down. Eventually, it got to the point where you didn't go at all. You stopped walking to the bathroom, and then you stopped bothering with the bowl that I placed right in front of you. You stopped bothering with the food, too. You were so weak.
You've always considered my bedroom (and bed) as yours. Toward the end, this was where you took your last breath. I hope my room was a sanctuary for you.
Of course, our relationship changed. My love for you grew to be so tender. You were so precious to me. And you still are. There's been so many memories and so many moments over these past 17 years. Even if I put every single moment into words, it wouldn't be enough to describe how much you mean to me. I just hope you know how much I love you.