I've said goodbye to her so many times -- before I moved, last summer when I visited. Living so far away, I never know if this time will be the last time I see her. When we packed up and got ready to head for the airport, I was crying and sneezing and covered in cat hair. I didn't feel bad about leaving my mom, or my old home, or my old city -- I just wanted to take my cat with me. Sometimes I can't decide if she or Moly is the cat I've loved the most; does it matter? If there's a tiebreaker necessary, sometimes I feel that knowing Spanky was more special because I was one of three people in the universe allowed to touch her. Moly likes everybody. Moly could never see me again and not suffer; I'm not entirely sure she'd even notice. Spanky, unfortunately, doesn't trust me any more, because I am the Wielder of Nail Clippers, but for a while, she was mine. Not any more, I suppose, which is why I leave her in Wisconsin every time I visit, no matter how much I want her back. She'd be afraid, stressed, unhappy. I keep telling myself this.
Once, shortly before I moved, I was visiting home. Spanky hates to be picked up, and is quite hard to corner in any case (if she wants petting, *she* will approach *you*, and you will have no choice in the matter. If she doesn't want petting, you won't be able to get within three feet of her). I somehow trapped her, and picked her up, because I knew I wouldn't have many more opportunities. She complained, but I sat down with her, and held her, and scratched her head. She sat stiffly, annoyed, waiting for my grip to slacken so she could escape.
And then something happened. I think she forgot that this hadn't been her idea; she relaxed, and, miraculously, began to purr, that motorboat rumble that I remember so well from my childhood, a sound I haven't heard except over the phone in years. We stayed like that for a few minutes; I was moved almost to tears, and still am.
And then I let her go.