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It is a Tuesday, October 1, and I am empty. Last night was the first night in 12 years that my beloved P did not sleep next to me.

Last night he went into the closet and stayed there all night. I wonder if he did not want me to see him suffer. He was just that kind.

P, the cat with the back legs a little too long, six toes on each foot, a runny right eye and a heart so full of love for every human in his presence.

He is gone from my sight, gone from my arms, gone from my lap, but I do not expect him ever out of my heart.

I don’t believe there has ever been a time I did not have a cat as my companion. I am so very connected to cats and the way they think. They keep me centered.

So where is my P? I hear him in our apartment. I feel him in my arms. Sometimes in the morning, my eyes would close. He did want me to go away to sleep so he would take his front paws and pat my face until my eyes reopened and joined him in our life together.

Once he saved my life. He woke me up to find me struggling to breathe. He hit my cheek until I woke up and fixed the problem.

He taught me about unconditional love. No matter who came to visit us, he would always get up to get in their lap and love that person. He did not ask questions about who they were, what they believed, even whether or not they wanted his love greeting. He simply gave it. What a great life lesson.

Many residents and staff daily stopped by our apartment to simply hold P and get their love fix. He had a kitty friend named Bella. I rescued them both while living in Winchester, Ky. When Gene and I moved to Salida we flew them both with us. P drove Bella nuts, teasing and chasing her everywhere yet, when she got so sick at the last, he just laid his sweet body touching hers to sooth her just like he did for all of us.

So, now my apartment is vacant, silent. I still reach for my P in the bed before I even know where I am in the morning. I reach and my arms return empty. He is not here.

Or is he? Is it possible, that such a huge part of me could just end like this? If P had a soul, and I absolutely know that he did, then the only thing gone is his painful, cancer-ridden body.

Maybe I can learn to connect and hold the soul of my P.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody and her husband Gene lived in Salida previously, and were a beloved part of our local community, with continuing local connections.

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