Okay, I'm over Gretel now. Yes, we had seventeen years, eight months, and four days together, yes, I've known her since the day she was born in my closet in my first college apt. on Atherton Street, yes, she's met every single guy I ever seriously dated, yes, she was with me through each move I made as an adult--from Tallahassee back to Dunedin to three apartments in Chicago and two apartments in State College, and three places in Philadelphia, and yes, she slept next to me nearly every night for all of those years, and yes, she was very often the first living creature I saw when I woke up, and yes, she would amble into the room to greet me whenever I walked through the door, but come on. Enough is enough. Actually, being sad comes and goes. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine, and then I am absolutely, desolately not fine at all. But I can look at her picture without crying and I picked one of her claws off the sofa without losing it (though did not throw it away), and it helps so much that Shawn is here and feels sad too and he talks about her--I think it's better to keep talking about her than to say nothing. Henri, for all his inert meatloafness under the bed helps too. At bedtime, he drapes half his body across mine and purrs and purrs and the rest of the night is a series of me turning over, him thumping loudly off the bed, and then him jumping back up to lay his body across me again. This morning, he followed me around into the bathroom and the bedroom. He is keeping an eye on me. When I went to kiss Shawn good-bye, he said, for the first time, Where my Henri at? (Before this, it has always been Gretel). I petted this super ugly hairless cat in the Chic Boutique yesterday and his purr thrummed under my fingers. It reminded me that Gretel hadn't been purring, not for a long time. She must have just felt ill. And I wouldn't have wanted to bring her home with me and watch her get worse. So, as hard as it was, I feel like we made the right choice. It's comforting how almost everyone I talk to has a dead pet story--and how most of them tell it still with a catch in their voices.