It was nearly eighteen years ago at the end of January 1998 when a small, long-haired cat turned up at our back door. He was cold and hungry and desperate. We already had two cats. My husband said, ‘if you let that cat in, he’ll be here for good.’ And he was.
He wasn’t small for long, but grew into a large handsome cat. A lot has happened in those eighteen years. Our older children were teenagers when he showed up. They are now in their mid-thirties. He was there when we brought our younger daughter home. He slept on my bed when I was recovering from an unpleasant operation and was waiting to hear if a worse one was in store (it wasn’t, thank God). He sat on my knee and I dripped tears on him when I was grieving after my mother’s death. He slept in my study while I wrote. I even used him in my novels: he was Cassandra’s cat, Bill Bailey, in my Cassandra James series. He was pretty much a one-woman cat, and I was the woman.
Billy died yesterday and we have buried him in the garden where he loved to roam. The photograph is of Billy nine or ten years ago, when he was in his glorious, fluffy prime.
R.I.P. Billy. You are sorely missed.