I keep expecting you to come through the door.
Pushing it open with your nose,
Or leaning up against it with your paws.
Your deep miaow, that could only belong to you,
Asking to be let out from the front,
Asking for some of your special plan dental biscuits.

I went into mum and dad’s room just to check if you might be there.
In your favourite place, at the bottom edge of the bed on the side mum sleeps.
I saw something white in the reflection of the mirror
For a split second, my heart fluttered
Thinking it was you.

But it wasn’t
It couldn’t
Because today you were taken away.

Nearly 16 years, we’ve been family
I was only 11.
You were in my life for more years than you weren’t.
Few things in the world, do you actually grow up with.
We watched each other grow.

When I think of home, I think of you.
I got so used to you being a part of my every day.
Not least because a picture of your beautiful face has been my icon for home on my phone for years,
But because you were a given.
Even after I moved away from home,
You would always be waiting on the door mat at the front of the house,
Ready to say welcome home,
Every single time without fail.

King Khalil
The guardian angel cat
Protecting your domain.
I was foolish to think your wet nose welcome kisses were a guarantee.

I remember the day we brought you home.
So small, fuzzy white fur, sparkling blue eyes, softly miaowing from inside of the shoe box as we drove you home.
We got you too early,
You were still learning how to work your little leggies!
We fed you milk from our cupped hands,
You slept on our pillows,
We cuddled,
And we knew we would be friends forever.

And that’s where your name came from.
Initially Khalila
Because we thought you were a girl… until the vet told us otherwise!
And then

Khalil.

Arabic for friend.
And the bestest friend you became.

As you began to grow, so did your personality and spirit.
You were so naughty and playful.
Chasing our feet up the stairs,
Hanging off our scarves as we prayed,
Jumping after the light cord,
Hanging off curtains,
Pooing and weeing anywhere that wasn’t your litter tray,
Mum used to make us put you on the litter tray incase you ‘needed’ to go because she was fed up of your naughtiness!

You would attack our toes whilst sleeping when they became uncovered by the duvet,
Totally scratching off our favourite lilac wallpaper in the mornings trying to wake us up.
Escaping from the house when you weren’t allowed out yet, disappearing for hours on end,
Climbing up the biggest trees in the garden, not being able to come down,
And we would have to come and rescue you!

Your white fur always looked so beautiful against the sunshine green,
You smelt so lovely after we would brush your furry coat with baby powder.
When you were old enough to go out, if you hadn’t come home in the evenings by dinner time mum would make us call you.
Khalil, Khalil, whilst shaking your stripy mouse toy with the cat nip inside making a noise.
You would respond, by jumping back over the fence, and come galloping across the lawn,
Home.

I remember your first solid meal after your kitten milk days.
Tuna, in a khaki coloured bowl, resting on the kitchen floor tiles.
You munched it up, slowly but yummily.
You looked particularly cute as a kitten after eating sardines in tomato sauce,
Because your white fur around your mouth would become red as you couldn’t lick your mouth clean properly yet!

You had unique food habits and nobody entertained them like mum.
Fried fish fingers especially for you,
We were never allowed to order fish and chips without a ‘fish for Khalil’
Or chicken and chips without a leg or a thigh for Khalil- juiciest parts only obviously.
You used to smell the bags when we bought takeaway and patiently wait for your plate.

And that wasn’t all. You liked sweet things too;
Rasmalai milk,
Strawberry cheesecake hagendaz,
Even Imaan’s barfi from when she finished Qur’an!
Mum would even warm your milk up for you to take the edge off the cold from it being in the fridge,
Feed it to you whilst you sat underneath the cars on the drive,
Such was the love.

Your personality changed as you grew older.
Less playful, less tree climbing, less hunting,
But still ever constant and ever there.
Your presence always known.
You weren’t too impressed when Sooty and Sweep arrived to your territory as kittens but eventually you worked out how to co-exist.
You were still always king, and they knew it.

You liked to be held less, and only on your terms.
You didn’t always want kisses, but when you wanted to give them we had to take them!
Selective with your affection,
You saved most of it for mum and dad,
Especially dad,
Sleeping on his chest.
He would cover his face with the duvet so you wouldn’t wake him with your wet nosed kisses!
Following him when he would walk down to the mosque.
He misses your soft paw steps behind him and has started driving to the mosque now.

Mum and dad moulded their routine around yours,
Mum would stay up late waiting for you to come in.
Your food would be left in specific places at specific times, to avoid fatty catty Sweep eating your special biscuits.
Dad would wake up early in the mornings to let you in or out, entertaining your high maintenance ways.

You loved to sleep in places where you weren’t really allowed,
Fresh bed sheets!!
You got away with things that the little two didn’t.
Slept on mum and dad’s bed as opposed to in the utility.
Because you were Khalil and that was your way.

Everyone knew you on our street.
So friendly with the neighbours.
And they have even asked about you since.
Everyone loved you.
You stood out like no other.
With your regal, striking features
And your street savvy strut.

You were 15 and a bit,
In my heart I knew that was old for a cat but you were so healthy.
The only observation the vet had was with your teeth and dribbly gums.
I always knew you would be the exception,
and you were, for being so healthy for so long.

But only to be taken from us in an instant.

It’s a week today since you’ve been gone, and I hadn’t finished writing this until today.
Because I didn’t want to believe it was true.

I came home this weekend, and it isn’t right without you.
An overwhelming sense of loss, despite us all trying to get on with things.
Dad is being dad, and being strong.
He speaks of you as he always did, with such love.
Mum is struggling.
We are all so sad, and miss you so much.

I can’t come through the front door without thinking of you,
There are empty spaces where your food and bowl should be.
Where you should be.

There is some solace in the fact we were able to leave you to rest in your garden,
Where we had such fun over the years and have shared precious memories.
I hope you are chasing butterflies in the sun with Daisy and saving us a spot where you are.

There will be so many people who don’t understand this.
The grief, sadness over the loss of a cat.
But you weren’t ‘just’ a cat.

The loss is in what you represent.
Childhood, youth,
Happy times, sad times.
Constancy,
Friendship,
Companionship for mum and dad when we all left; for marriage, for work.
You were always their furry friend.

The inevitably of time,
That everything must come to an end.

You had a way of sensing sadness.
In a way where people can’t.
Because we are too short sighted and absorbed to see.
No judgment. No comment.
Just always there.
Just love.

The perfect friendship.
The perfect friend.
Perfect Khalil.

Thank you for being a constant source of happiness and comfort for so long.

Forever my family, forever my faithful friend.

x

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