I love that word, but seldom find the occasion to use it. And now, unfortunately, I feel it is the perfect word to describe how I feel about my much-too-short relationship with Gigi. I am very attached to all my companions - I flatly love them. They comprise my immediate family and our relationships parallel all the two-legged relationships I have and have had. They have spats, they misbehave, they forgive me if I misbehave, they make me laugh. But the one thing they give me that no person does is unconditional love. How astonishing that a small, feral cat who populated my life for such a short time would have such a hold on my heart? I have such a clear image of the last morning I saw her - she was lying warmly against me on the sofa. I was scratching the distinctive pattern on the top of her head when she raised her head, looked at me through squinted eyes and rumbled her amazingly loud purr. She had kohl lined eyes and a sweet smudgy patch on her chin. And now she is gone. We had been working on making her an indoor-only cat, but the process wasn't completed. I had one other outdoor cat who engendered that much love, and he disappeared as well. It was a long, painful process, forgetting that loss. And it will be a long and painful process with Gigi's loss as well. I will hear her mewing at the back door, under my bedroom window, out in the poultry yard. I will see her out of the corner of my eye. Not knowing how it ended leaves you with the hope that it hasn't. And hope, in that sense, becomes a form of purgatory.