I keep forgetting. I turn off the tv, walk into my room, and expect Cleo to be there on the bed waiting for me. She’d open one sleepy eye, make an “am I going to get fed?” noise, then go back to sleep.

But she’s not there. Of course. She never will be again. I can hear how ridiculous I sound. I can hear people going, get over it already, she was a cat. It’s not like losing a person.

Well, to me, it is. To me, it’s losing my best friend. She was my constant companion, never judegmental, not always giving with her hugs, but always when I needed them the most. There was nothing more comforting than buring my face in her warm tummy furr. Or reaching out a hand and stroking her and hearing her purr sputter into life. She was so trusting, so accepting. So adaptable to every new place I dragged her. I was never alone for the past three years, she was always there for me.

But in the end, her trust was worth nothing, because I didn’t, I couldn’t protect her.

I am an extremely protective person. I think it comes from having to defend my father from a judgemental society for so many years. I’ve always said, mess with me all you want. I’ll forgive you. But mess with my family or my friends, and I’ll fuck you up.

But something messed with Cleo, and I wasn’t there for her. She died alone. And I can never forgive myself for that.

I still get so mad when anyone hurts my Dad. He’s so sensitive. I hate it when he gives way to someone on the road and they don’t acknowledge him. I hate it when I see people give him a sideways look because he has a big long beard and old clothes. I hate it when peoeple say” Oh, he’s an artist…” in that tone of voice. I hate judgemental fucks who think that they can walk all over other people. They don’t know my Dad. They don’t know that he is my hero, the hero of all his kids. He has a daughter who can talk to him about anything under the sun, who rings him every night because she wants to, who tells him her every dream and hope and fear, who thinks that if she ends up with a guy who’s half the man he is, she’ll be damn lucky.

Sometimes I think maybe I should have learned to protect myself as passionately, stubbornly, with as much anger as I protect others. Then maybe I wouldn’t get hurt so often.

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