There are so many words that come to mind, but perhaps it is best to start with a quote from Tolkien:|
"In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory."
Lily was rescued from the street by Chitra Besbroda (better known as the "Angel of Harlem" - http://www.sentientcreatures.org). So we are not exactly sure when she was born - our best guess is 1997, give or take a year. Lily was adopted by relatives of mine and lived with them from the time of her rescue till 2005.
In addition to being a wonderful companion for the humans in her life, Lily also gave birth to three kittens of her own in 1999. One of her kittens, Jo, looks just like her and has lived with me since being weaned from Lily. Actually, Jo is a bigger version of Lily ... bigger face, bigger eyes, bigger ears, ... bigger everything! (Jo is a well fed cat!) Although they look exactly alike (modulo the size difference), Jo did not seem to inherit Lily's sweet disposition - but I'm still hoping she finds it some day.
In early 2005, my relatives were forced to relocate suddenly and had to put their cats up for adoption. I hated the idea of Lily staying in a shelter so much, I decided to adopt her, despite the possible confusion that this might cause with the two other cats living with me. Maggie is very shy, but I was hoping Jo would be happy to be reunited with her mother.
Even though she was about eight, Lily behaved like a new born kitten when she first came to live with me. She took great pleasure in exploring every aspect of her new home. The microwave oven was a astonishing wonder to her. So were all the closets and cat houses, the computer monitor and old cardboard boxes.
Unfortunately, Lily never bonded with Maggie and Jo. This was not a huge surprise - after all, Maggie and Jo haven't bonded with each other, even after living with each other since 1999. I think Lily wanted very much to be friends with them initially, but they never showed any interest in accepting her. Lily wound up spending most of the time in the bedroom, which she fiercely defended (Maggie and Jo not allowed in her territory!), and occasionally would wander into the living room (Maggie/Jo territory!) on her tip toes, trying to avoid all confrontations. Occasionally Lily and Jo would have these long staring matches, and every now and then some fur would fly. But for the most part they all managed to find a way to peacefully coexist.
I think Lily was very happy in the three plus years she lived with me. Whenever I returned to the apartment after being gone for a few hours, I would find her sitting on the bed, waiting for me to rub her belly and give her love and affection. She would often sit in the window sill watching the squirrels collecting their nuts in the trees, and chasing after the birds that came nearby.
One of the most humorous memories I have of Lily came one night when I returned home to find Lily shaking her head vigorously; she was clearly very frustrated. I immediately started to panic. I was running around like a chicken without a head, trying to find the phone number of the nearest animal emergency center and searching for the cause of this "condition" on the internet, while trying to calm her down at the same time. Eventually I realized that she had simply gotten one of her eyelashes stuck in her eye lid, and application of a damp cloth to the area led to a simple remedy.
My own life changed for the better in so many ways since adopting Lily. Most importantly, I got reacquainted with some old friends I hadn't seen in years, and met quite a few new ones, all of whom I value dearly. I also rediscovered my love of making music (although none of the cats ever seemed to love to hear me practice 8-). I even got a real job for one of the few times in my life.
I don't think this is a coincidence at all. I think the love we shared with each other made all these other wonderful things happen for me.
Oh Lily ... I miss you so much ... my tears are unnumbered - they could fill an ocean. You will always be in my thoughts. When I get a chance to play music again, it will be dedicated to you - listen for it through the wind. I start and end every day at this page. I will never ever forget you. I love you Lily.