On December 2, 1998, just after 9:00 AM, I had to say good-bye to Harry, my beloved little cat. Harry was a smallish tabby with an adorable face, short legs and a large belly. His fur was gray with black markings, and on his forehead was a perfect "M." I adopted Harry in September 1997, and feline leukemia and its complications claimed him just a little more than a year later. He was not yet three years old.

I did not intend to adopt a cat at Petco that day. But when I passed the cages with cats for adoption through 4 Paws, I had to stop and stick my fingers through the bars to pet them. Harry's response was immediate,

playful and enthusiastic. The pupils of his eyes were huge even under the fluorescent glare of the store lights. The sign on his cage broke my heart: "HI I'M HARRY I DON'T SEE TOO GOOD PLEASE GIVE ME A GOOD HOME!"

So, I did. I simply had to have him.

Harry shared his life and his love generously with me and my other two cats. He played with everything. He purred constantly, without interruption. He followed me around my house whenever I was home. He was the first to greet me at the door each day. He sat at my feet and slept on my bed. Harry's personality was like sunshine. He was the happiest cat I have ever seen, and the obvious happiness in his big green eyes brought me joy. Even if I knew that he was sick and would only be with me for a short time, I would adopt him all over again.

I believe that, on an otherwise ordinary day in September, Harry selected me from his cage at Petco to be his human companion. I loved him with all my heart, and he touched a deep part of me that no other pet has.

Harry brought love and joy into my home and my life, and part of him will be with me always. Certainly I will love him always.

In my grief and heartbreak following Harry's loss, I began reading stories and books by others who had lost beloved pets. I found comfort in this sentiment: "Our animals shepherd us through certain eras of our lives. When we are ready to turn the corner and make it on our own . . . they let us go." (Author unknown) I did not know that I was ready for this cat to let me go, but I have to trust that Harry knew. I believe that his message to me is, Live in the moment. Be happy.