We had "cat proofed" our yard these past few years so he could come out with us and enjoy the great outdoors on his own terms, within the confines of our yard.
The (many) times he escaped our back yard when he was young and feisty.
The time he got "treed" by some crows (he climbed up into a tree and they were swooping down on him and quite disturbed by this black critter in their tree).
Snuggled up on the lawn swing, just enjoying the sun and whoever may have been around.
Hidden and camouflaged in the underbrush of our lilac bush.
Soaking up the sun. Right up until the end of his days.
I was suddenly grateful that he was given the gift of "one last spring" to unwrap with us.
Andre was adored. He was an integral part of our family and he made his way quietly throughout our days. Whether our house was full of kids, just our family or if we had company, he was a part of almost every memory I have.
We have so many pictures of our much adored little black kitty. I have written about him on many occasions. Heavens, he was even the theme of one of my Christmas letters ("Because Our Little Black Cat Scratched").
He was loved and he knew it. I am pretty sure he adored us as well because we certainly felt our human/cat relationship was a two way street.
That little guy made my heart swell. Day after day, year after year. I wish I could say I showed my love for my children in a manner that was as unmistakable as the way I openly loved our little black cat.
I have replayed his last years and days with us over and over in my mind.
I know we did all we could for him. I know without a doubt. Our efforts were supported and supplemented by our friendly neighborhood veterinarian's office. I have felt a bond grow with our vet family throughout these past few years.
In his final hours, it was such a gift to simply sit beside him and absorb "the essence of Andre".
He was such a cool cat. So calm. So life affirming. So loving. So adventuresome. He knew how to live the good life.
I replayed the years in my mind and I was so incredibly at peace, knowing that we did everything we could for him. We loved him, nurtured him, took care of him when he was sick and always had our door open for him during all of those years where he was so interested in the great big world beyond our own back yard.
I did everything I could do, throughout his entire life with us. I said all I had to say. I wrote. We took pictures and videos. We have stories and memories which will transcend time.
My heart is full of good, long lasting feelings of loving and being loved.
Loving so deeply comes at a cost. Hearts are broken, great loves are lost and you risk not feeling love in return.
It is a price I would pay any day of the week. The high cost of loving comes with the greatest reward. You just know you would not have done it any other way.
It was a privilege and an honor loving you, Andre. Thank you for opening not only my heart, but the hearts of our entire family. We wouldn't be the same without you.