On the last Friday of September, I woke up as usual and wondered where my little girl cat Willow was. Normally, I have a face full of purrs and she's the first thing I see when I open my eyes ...
If there's one thing Willow loved, it was catnip and a sunny patio!
I didn't see her for a couple of hours, even though both my boys had come in for food and gone back out again. After calling for her a number of times, and finishing my morning work tasks, I went for a worried walk down the road to look for her. I bumped into my neighbour who told me she'd been run over in the early hours and showed me where her body was.
"You can imagine I was devastated"
I first met Willow as a skinny 5-month-old kitten at an RSPCA foster home. She'd initially been chosen by a family with young children and as she was terrified by all the noise from the kids she'd been returned as unsuitable.
She was hiding in the back of a wardrobe, and the fosterer had difficulty catching her as she squirmed around under some clothes not wanting to be picked up. When he handed her to me, she dived into the warmth of my jacket quaking in fear at the sound of other people cooing and giggling at the antics of her siblings in the room. I knew I had to take this special little girl home and give her the life she deserved.
As she grew up, her loving personality shone through. We'd often cuddle up on the sofa together as I watched TV and she would always sleep on the bed with me; I even created a 'Willow Pillow' so she could curl up next to me and I could fall asleep listening to her purrs with her wrapped around my hand as I gently ticked her fluffy tummy.
At my old house in Milton Keynes, I didn't have a catflap and I'd spend ages trying to get her to come in when I wanted to lock up for the evening. She certainly had a stubborn streak which showed early on.
When we moved to Hanslope she relished the countryside and became a real hunter, decimating the local rodent population so much that my neighbours even commented on the lack of mice getting into their houses.
She loved sunning herself in the garden and would curl up on the bench, queen of all she surveyed and would meow her head off when she saw the catnip pot come out demanding a pile of her own to roll around in.
But she always had that nervous terror of other people and if there was someone else in the house - or even a knock at the door - she'd fly out through the cat flap and make herself scarce. I'd have to call for her when they left and allow her some time to come in through the back door and realise we were alone again.
"I always worried about her when she was out and about"
The country road I live on can be busy during rush hour and rural drivers have scant regard for speed limits overnight. I had seen her crossing the road before. At times, I was pleased to see her look left and right, at others, I was horrified to see her sitting in the middle of the road preening herself on a sunny afternoon.
But she just loved hunting. In my neighbours' gardens along the road, in the field and copse behind my house, she would often bring mice and voles home unharmed just to terrify them to death by playing with them on the patio.
The number of times I've rescued an uninjured rodent from her and released them on the field late at night. With me trying to catch the rodent to release it, she probably thought I was helping her and saw it as a bit of a game.
I only hope she was chasing a mouse when the car hit her. At least she would have died doing what she loved to do, would have been completely focussed on her prey, and would not have even seen it coming.
With the help of my best friend Kirsty, I dug a grave in the garden on Friday afternoon and buried her in it along with the boxed ashes of my two other girls Cassie and Megan. They both died of old age years ago and I never knew what to do with the ashes except to keep them. It just felt right to put my girls together.
So to a special little being with a beautiful soul, my pretty puss, my beloved amber girl, I'm going to miss you so much. There's a huge hole in my life that can never be filled and my bed seems so empty now you're not there to purr me to sleep.
Thank you for her life Universe. I'm grateful you put us together all those years ago. I hope you feel I gave her a good life and that she felt loved and I will always be grateful for the memories. Though I'll never understand why you took her away from me so abruptly.