He left suddenly, unexpectedly, walking off into a cold winter’s afternoon. Where was he going? Was it possible that, after fourteen years, he could remember from whence he came and wanted to return?
His arrival was unexpected, too. A tiny bundle of matted fur curled up in the road outside our house, weighing no more than a ping-pong ball. That scrap transformed into a sleekly beautiful tabby who was the apple of our eye and the king of his domain.
Our world became his. He patrolled the garden perimeters with vigilance, keeping out interlopers with a bravery that was often foolhardy. Occasionally he would appear with ears bitten, scratched back and dented confidence, and then lay low until he felt back on form and able to rule his small realm again with pride.
For a stray, he never strayed. Not once. He never left his private paradise, our home. The only time his proud valour quavered was when he was forced to exit the front gate, safely boxed, on his way to the vet. Then he would cry and shake until the gates of home opened again, calming him instantly as they clanged shut against the outside world.
He must have known his time was near. Was it his pride that made him leave us? Did he not want to spend his final hours here, in his home, his Avalon? Whatever the reason, for the first time in his life, he voluntarily breached the walls of his kingdom and walked far, far away to a place where we cannot find him.
You didn’t let us say goodbye so I’m saying it now. We love you, Pookie, and will remember you always.