This was Valentine. Today I am missing her and Lovey and Claudia and Lisa and Fussy - and all the other dear loving cats who have lived with me over the years. They gave me someone to love, and they loved me back, and purred in my ears at night, and licked my face to wake me up in the morning. They were there. Today I still have Cheesecake, though he is old and frail, and Pandora & Bob.
Living alone over the years, one learns to take care of oneself emotionally. To buy the roses & chocolates, if necessary. To read books instead of talking with anyone in the evenings. To do projects, or garden, or design things on the weekends. Or sometimes just read more books.... an average of a book a day, until I went back to school a few years ago. To think about things - like animal intelligence and emotions. To carry upstairs my own firewood, and home my own groceries. To build my own fires.
But the cats made it possible. They still do.