Someone thumped my door on a dark and wintry night this week. It was never going to be good news.
I mentally ran through who it could be. The Teenager was safely upstairs killing zombies, Ocado had already delivered and we never seem to get political canvassers here, although I was more than ready to take them on.
I answered the door, pulling my cardigan around myself. A frantic woman stood there, pointing at the road, ‘do you have a black cat? About this big?’ She made a tiny size with her hands. I could see by her face it was hopeless.
I rushed down the path but I was too late – my beautiful constant companion, Dora, had already died. She had been knocked over. Gone. Just like that, in an instant.
I hope I don’t sound too melodramatic. For me, cats are special when you have MS and spend more time than usual at home. She slept on my bed every night, we tussled over duvet rights, she brought presents of half-chewed mice and birds which she laid reverentially in front of me. When I slept in the afternoon, she would curl up on my feet on the sofa, her purrs competing with the nerve pulsing aches.
We listened to Tweet of the Day together every morning on Radio 4 before breakfast. She defended our cottage, a not insignificant feat for a cat so utterly tiny. She basked in the slices of sunlight beaming on to my desk when I was agonising over an essay for university. In short, she was present.
Outside my house, I gathered her in my arms, called my mum (aren’t mums great?), and we mourned together. Dora adored her and could hear her footsteps a mile off. In vain, we took her to the vets. The nurse checked her over, re-wrapped the blanket I had taken her in and sadly handed her body back to me. Would I like cremation? No.
My boss and friend helped me bury her today, just outside my window, in the spot she slept in during the summer months. We talked about when I adopted her from Cats Protection. When I got her home, she seemed so entirely comfortable within just half an hour, as if she was meant to be here. And she was.