Almost 11 years ago, I gave the man a gift. She was gray (just like he'd wanted) with little flecks of orange throughout. She had a tiny, straight tail, a little squeak instead of meow, and the biggest purr I'd ever heard come out of such a tiny kitten.

We named her Pumpkin. It was fall and the orange in her fur stood out so from the gray. And we were both in love.

One year ago today, I had to do the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It was time. She was starting to suffer. It was right. It was hard. So. Very. Hard.

Of all the animals I've met in my life, I've never known a cat to be so in-tune with its people (and I only had cats growing up, Kali is my first dog). Pumpkin and the man had a love and a connection that can't be described. She would follow us around and meow and talk to us. When she was ready for bed, she would 'yell' at the man and anytime he neared a sitting or laying position, she'd jump into his lap.

She loved dogs (the man's roommate when she was a kitten had a Husky). She did not like other cats. The only other cat I ever saw her be nice to was Max. She loved mandarin oranges and sleeping inside the man's shirt - while he was wearing it.

I believe pets have jobs in our lives. She taught us how to love unconditionally. She taught us how to give of ourselves as she did. I wish I could explain the depths of these words, they seem so hollow.

A year (and a move) later, I still think I see her sometimes. I'll still put mandarin oranges in the shopping cart and think "Pumpkin hasn't had these for a while." It's still so hard to believe she's really not here.

We were blessed to have Pumpkin in our lives. I don't think we'll ever have another cat. She was special - a special I can't put into words. I miss her.

Kali and Pumpkin napping on the couch (un-posed).

Pumpkin and Max as you'd most often find them - together.


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