On Monday the 7th of September 2015, I had to say a final goodbye to my longest and most loving companion Arriman, the black cat.
I've had Arri since I was nine years old, and he has seen a lot of milestones in my life with me. He was my mascot, my muffin-faced monster and my demon. He was scared and vulnerable when we adopted him, and it took nearly a year of gentle attention and patience before he trusted me not to hurt him, and nearly another year before he loved me as soppily as I loved him.
Everyone who met Arri knew he was a grumpy old man, even when he was a young cat. He avoided people, he hated other animals and he detested attention. But he loved me, completely. I was his human. He would always know when I was walking up the path to the front door, and be waiting to yowl at me for leaving him alone all day. He had to be within at least a metre of me, following me from room to room and forcing his way onto my lap at every opportunity, whether I was eating, doing my homework or watching TV, he had to be there too. He had claimed me as his own, and who was I to argue?
I couldn't take Arri with me when I went away to University, but he was always so happy to see me when I came home - at first outraged I had the audacity to leave, and then besotted when all the right scratches to the chin were given, the right tickle under the ear where cats keep their souls. Moving home was our golden age, when he was comfortable and happy and I was home all the time to fuss over him, play with him and bother him endlessly while he took over the bed. Moving out again, this time I could take him with me and we had another wonderful year and a bit together in Cambridge, away from his arch nemesis Juno (my parent's cat).
It was clear Arri wasn't well a year ago, his kidneys weren't working very well and he was getting old and creaky. His old age was good regardless, being constantly spoiled and fussed over. He was fed from dinner plates, let in and out whenever pleased him, and always had first pick of the couch cushions.
He was happy until Monday morning, when it was clear it was all a bit too much. All he wanted was to be held close and kept warm, he wasn't moving well and had no appetite. We took him in, held him close, kissed him a hundred and one times goodbye and let him know how much we would miss him. He died knowing he wasn't alone, and that his human wouldn't leave him again.
Arriman was my shadow. I was always a little bit more me, when I had Arri.
Thank you for sixteen glorious years and a lifetime of happy memories, you magnificent pain in the arse.