A note to the reader: In this post, I talk about losing a pet — no, a beloved family member. It was very hard for me to write; it may be hard for some to read.

I leave my bags in the hallway, and walk into the kitchen. The house is dark, but there’s a little moonlight spilling in from the window. I look to my left, and I can see three small bowls against the far wall: one for dry food, and two for water. Her little gray-and-white head looks up as someone enters the kitchen, and she goes to sit in the center of the kitchen. She’s looking up expectantly, patiently, waiting for a treat.

But she isn’t. The room is dark, and I’m the only one in it.

Liz gently holds a gray-and-white cat named Rorschach, while wearing a white shirt with little red dots

I remember the day we met her. She and I walked through the shelter, meeting each of the cats in turn. The one we eventually left with — the one who picked us — was the only one who pressed her whole body against the door to her pen. When the door was opened, she slowly wound her way around our legs, her tail a long, gray, graceful question mark.

It was a bright, beautiful day. We took a cab home, and I remember the back windows were cracked open. The little cat sitting with us poked her nose up toward the fresh air, sampling new smells, blinking happily.

A gray-and-white cat named Rorschach looks up toward the ceiling

I look to my left, and see one edge of the shower curtain’s curled up a bit. I smile, make a tsk noise, and wonder how long she’s been in there. She often climbs in to drink from the faucet after someone’s shower, you see.

But she isn’t there. And she won’t be ever again. I straighten out the curtain as my breath hitches, and I make it two steps into the hallway before the tears start again.

A gray-and-white cat named Rorschach peers up from beside a bed, looking over a dark gray blanket

In my limited experience with it, my grief is not clever. My grief is a basic, dumb, unsubtle thing. My grief is obsessed with simple deviations from an expected norm. It simply points at a spot, noting this is not the way this thing is meant to be; something is missing. Like a long, gray, graceful question mark.

A gray-and-white cat named Rorschach sits on Ethan’s shoulders, while both of them look off-camera

I start my run. After a few blocks, I pass that new bougie pet store — you know, the one that opened down the street a few months ago. I wonder again, as I have every damned time I walk past the store, if today’s the day I’ll stop in to see if they carry the overpriced food she likes.

Then I remember I don’t need to do that. I blink some tears out of my eyes; I run on.

A gray-and-white cat named Rorschach looks out a window, which is overlooking a parking lot covered in yellow leaves

Our little jumper, our kicker, our little hunter, our sweet potato, our mitten feet, our shovel paws, our bobcat, our wedgehead, our snuffler, our murdercat, our little bug. Our Rorschach. Our Rory.

We love you. And we miss you so much, more than we have the words for.

Goodbye, our best and smartest girl.