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This photo was taken shortly after bringing Azar home, in September 1995. He was five months old. And even though he only had the proper use of three legs, he could still use his front left bendy paw to hook onto things and I called him my little monkey. Over the years he became the cat of a thousand names as I found more and more terms of endearment for him. But his real name was Azar, chosen because of what it meant (luck, chance or happenstance), which was how we found each other, and also because it sounded almost the same as my favourite flower, azahar (orange blossom), which later on became my internet nickname. I liked how the two words played together.

Right from the beginning I knew Azar was something special, even though he didn’t actually allow me to touch him for the first 2-3 months. Frankly, after snatching him from the street in a cardboard box, and since his only previous contact with humans was that they wanted to kill him, that was understandable. So it was endearing how he let Sunny be his “big brother” and I loved watching them snuggle up together. But you know, after awhile I was feeling a bit left out and so one fine day I chased this little black cat all around the apartment, finally snatched him up in my arms and brought him over to my bed where I commenced to give him one heck of a vigorous full body massage. And I’ll be damned, the little guy LOVED it. This became known as snibbling, though I still have no idea where I came up with that name.

It’s now been about a week and a half since Azar died … I thought getting away for a few days might help me feel the loss of him a bit less terribly, but it turns out that I’m going to miss that beautiful boy no matter where I go. The thing is, I’d been trying to prepare myself for this ever since the tumour was diagnosed last April, knowing it was only a matter of time, but there was no way. Because everytime I thought of not having Azar in my life, doing all the adorable things he always did, just by being himself, I knew I could never ever deal with it. With not having him here with me.

I remember thinking how hard it would be when he was gone because of how much I love him. But it turns out that I also miss how much he loved me! I have never been loved so fiercely and trusted so completely in my life, and don’t expect to ever experience that again.

Another thing, among so many things, is that Azar always brought out the best in me. I honestly liked who I was when I was with him, and those of you who know me well know that I have a hard time liking myself. But I truly am a better person for having known Azar and having lived with him for all those years. No matter what happened I never lost my patience with him (losing my temper with him wasn’t even an option!). I just loved him so much, you see. I don’t know how he came to live inside my heart so much that I couldn’t imagine ever living without him – that just happened. Happenstance. And I still don’t know how to live without him. He is everywhere I look, but then he isn’t there. And the longing to see him and hold him again just tears me up inside.

To honour his memory I want to try and be the same person I was with him, with other people. I just hope I’m up for the job, because it was so easy to be my best with Azar. Never found it to be the same with most people…