When I was about 13 years old, we used to have this pack of cats come to our house and hang out in front of our yard. They lived next door and there were probably about six of them: a grandmother cat, the mother cat, and her kittens. One of them was Eyes, our eventual family cat. The cats would always come over and we’d feed them and play with them. Eyes would go inside our house and just stay there. We didn’t know that was her name at the time, so we had to come up with a name for her.

I remember vividly watching Predator with my mom and brother, and Arnold Schwarzennegger would constantly yell the name of the Native American character named Billy. Eyes would sit there with us, so we ended up yelling at her, calling her, Billy.

Billy, our cat.

Our neighbors would eventually move to an apartment which didn’t allow cats. My mom asked if we could keep Billy, and she then joined our family.

I remember almost every day that I would walk home from school or when my brother would give me a ride home, Billy would be sitting in the tree waiting for us. As we approached the front of the house, she would always greet us at the door.

Billy was a feisty cat, but also super playful. I remember rolling her up in one of our rugs in the living room and swinging her around like she was on a swing set. Eventually, every time she saw me get near the rug, she would just lay on it, ready to go.

When I went to college, I would always call my mom and talk to her. We still talk daily, and every time I say goodbye to Mom, I would also say “tell Billy I said hello.” My experience of having a bet cat was so great, that at age 19 I got my own cat, Wilson…who some of you know as MegaKitty. Even though I grew older and had my own cat, Billy was always our cat.

As I got older, I often forgot that she did as well. Each time I would visit her, our once chubby cat who was once a mother of many kittens grew skinnier and skinner. The further you are from someone, the more you see time pass since you don’t get to see them every day.

This past year Billy seemed to get weaker and weaker. She didn’t have much time left. I got to go home for Christmas this year to visit my mom and dad, but I have to be honest…one of the reasons I went home was because I wanted to hug Billy one more time, in case I didn’t get to see her again.

Today it brings me great pain to know that Billy passed away at the age of 18. I have known her for most of my adult life, and never even thought about what life would be like without her any more.

Though I am heartbroken, it makes me feel better that she is no longer in pain and at peace. The experience of losing a pet is always devastating for a family, because they are family. However, like with humans, I would do it all over again to share those joyful experiences of life with them.

Sleep well, little kitty. Thank you for being in my life for so many great years. We love you so much and will miss you dearly.