13 years ago, I brought my little Rascal home from the shelter. He spent 7 months there after his former owner died, overlooked because (I was told) “he is big, black and older,” the very things I liked about him. My friend knew I wanted a cat, and sent me a picture of one like hers who I would cat sit in my apartment when she was away. He didn’t appeal to me, but I scrolled down and saw Tucker, his original name. He wasn’t the friendliest at first, but I spent hours with him over a few weekends at the shelter, and I realized he felt lonely and abandoned after his owner died, and hopeless as he watched all the other cats come and go for months. I had recently relocated and I too was lonely, and I too fear abandonment. It was 7/7/07 when I filed the adoption application and 7/14/07 (Bastille Day) when I brought him home. I was told the shelter staff cried with joy when they learned Tucker was finally going home. They said he danced around happily, as he knew what was happening, having watched so many before him. The dance continued when he arrived home with me. I had everything prepared for him, and I soon got him a water fountain, as I observed his fascination with a waterfall wall at the shelter. I also got a leopard stroller for him, and we’d go for walks up and down the hill to parks at either end of the street where we lived to watch the fountain, the birds, the little brook, and sit under the shade of the beautiful trees. When I was at work, he had access to the terrace, where he could watch birds and the passing scene on the street below, sometimes on a little patch of artificial grass he could lie on. He was so happy every day when I returned from work, he’d rear up on his hind legs like a little black stallion! His nickname became “The Black Scallion.” I let him run back and forth after a ball down the long hall in my apartment building late at night. He became my loyal and incredibly loving and affectionate companion, my best friend and the love of my life. We had family cats before, but Rascal was the first cat who was only mine. Our bond grew so strong over our 12 years together. He brought unending joy to my life and helped me battle loneliness and depression and change. He taught me even more than I knew about love and caring and kindness and compassion. He helped me as I navigated a new town, a new job, a new life, then all over again when I lost my job 6 years later. We moved to my mother’s home in California, where we have large decks and a garden. He watched the water and the boats on the bay below, the birds, squirrels, foxes, deer, quail and raccoons. He sunned on the deck, often splayed out on his back. He romped in the garden. When I lost him at 17 1/2 a year ago, after a heartbreaking battle with CKD, my heart was shattered. I still cry for him every day. But I know he is always with me, and I am always with him. He was a blessing in my life, an angel sent to me. Our ashes will be commingled under a weeping willow tree on my brother’s property in upstate New York, where we can be together again for all eternity.