We know when we take on the responsibility of pet ownership that our cats and dogs and fish and lizards won't live forever. We do it anyway, because while they are here they bring us so much joy that the inevitable sadness of a loss to come is acceptable. I knew that when I adopted Echo over ten years ago, and though my heart is broken, I don't regret a thing.
Echo came into my life the summer I moved to Dallas for my first post-grad school job. I was living alone for the first time, and after a mattress the first thing I wanted for my new life was a cat. I went to the McKinney SPCA and sat in the cat room meeting potential friends, and there was this little gray bullseye tabby that was shy, but still willing to crawl up on my lap and settle there for thirty minutes while I went about falling in love. Her name back then was Sparkle. It didn't fit. The first time she spent the night in my apartment, she spent it wandering around mewling as if she were acquainting herself via echolocation. Thus Echo was now Echo. She's been curling up with me in good times and bad ever since.
Two and a half years ago, Echo got sick. After much angst and trips to the vet I learned she had what looked like lymphoma. It wasn't curable, but with medicine, her vet felt she could have another 2 or so years with me. It seemed short even then, and it feels extremely short now that she's gone. Still, I'm grateful for every extra minute I was given.
Echo was a cat that loved to curl up on my lap. She enjoyed shoelaces but found laser pointers deceitful. She had a real taste for cheese and for some reason the carrots in the fried rice from the Chinese place. She was shy with other people, but she was always there for me. When I was sad, she curled up with me, just like that first day we met. And today we did that for the last time, and it was sad, and I am sad, but she's not in pain anymore and it was a really good ten years.