I lost my friend of sixteen years today.

I got Echo and Xanth shortly after I moved to Lima, OH. They were loving friends through several moves, and a failed marriage. Echo passed just after I started dating Angela. Xanth remained strong and vibrant, and joined me when I moved in with my soon-to-be-wife. He was a trooper when he met Angela’s dog, and quickly asserted himself as the dominant pet in the house.

When he was younger, he used to play a game with me which I called “put things inside other things.” I would find all manner of small objects inside my shoes in the morning. I felt like an adventurer every morning, dumping scorpions out of my boots; except instead of scorpions it was pen caps, or twist ties, or other small bits of debris that Xanth managed to pick up. He’s also drop things into the toilet as part of this game, which quickly taught me to put the toilet lid down every time I used it. Any time I forgot to close the lid, I’d find something new at the bottom of the bowl.

Several months ago we made a concerted effort to reduce allergens in the house, in an effort to reduce the frequency of Angela’s debilitating headaches. My dad graciously offered to take Xanth to his house, to help us identify if his dander was exacerbating Angela’s situation. Dad and Xanth quickly became close friends, and developed a number of their own rituals. Dad would send long emails to us detailing the cat’s activities, and the love and warmth that man and cat felt for one another could not be missed.

A couple weeks ago dad told me Xanth hadn’t been eating well, and had taken him to the vet. Nothing alarming was identified at the time. The situation repeated again this week, but the symptoms were much more severe. Xanth had lost a significant amount of weight, and was acting lethargic. Fluids and antibiotics were administered, and a broken tooth was extracted. It was hoped that the latter was the cause of the problems. Several days passed with no improvements. Last night, Dad told me that the cat had labored breathing, and was shaky on his feet.

I met Dad at the vet’s office this morning to get an analysis of the situation, and the options. I arrived steeled for what I knew was going to happen.

The vet was very kind. After a brief discussion Dad and I decided that it was time to let Xanth go. Dad left, unable to participate in what came next. I held my dear friend in my arms, stroked his emaciated body, and talked to him about all the great things we’d experienced together.

Then it was just me crying alone in a sterile room for a long time.

I’ll miss you, Xanth.

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