I see her in the hall as I enter. She holds her tail aloft and she quickly slips into a room just as my conscious mind wonders if she is there or not.
I look for her around my feet as I hang out the clothes; as I type this story; as I walk around. I look down for her so I don't step on her tail, such is her closeness.
I hear her purr. I hear her whining for her dinner, earlier and earlier each day. I imagine her stretching her body on the door and notice that she has pulled a hole in the mesh. The hole is like a growth chart, getting taller as she grew. She started this practice as a kitten.
There were things when her constant attention and presence frustrated me, but today, I see her total adoration as endearing.
There are plenty of signs of her - a scratched table top, paw marks on the mats, loosened cane on the laundry basket.
I feel her indentation on my lap when I sit. I go down to stroke her and have to take my hand back again when I see that she is only an indentation in my mind. But in my mind, her little weight sits solidly there, purring and begging to be stroked.
I see her white fur on my clothes when I pick them up from the bed where she has stretched out for an hour in the afternoon. I joke to my husband that I will be cleaning her fur up from this house for the rest of my life.
And it will be for the rest of my life rather than for the rest of hers.
Because her life ended last week.
They say that 16 is a good number of years for a cat to live, but I've grown accustomed to her funny little ways and I miss the third person I have been living with for that time.
My children too have left, but I see them, albeit two with airfares. But the seventh member of this household has only left us memories and a curious longing for what went before. I drive past the vet and I say goodbye to her as I do.
That was where our lovely vet who became part of our pet friendship circle confirmed that she did in fact have kidney failure and explained the trauma her next few weeks might bring. We took the humane option and stopped her insatiable thirst, also stopping a thirst not only for water but for life and all its mysteries.
It still feels surreal. It felt strange not to hear her protests from the cat box in the back seat of the car on the way home.
And now our home is a quieter place. The house has lost its queen, an imperious and playful creature with a whimsical outlook who kept us entertained and always loved.