It was only 12 short years ago that I found you. When I first spied you, I immediately gathered you up in my arms and snuggled my nose in your sparse fur. You meowed amiably, and our connection was made.
Truthfully, you weren't much to look at. Your black coat was wiry and patchy and your tiny body fit into the palm of my hand. The shelter workers said that you were the only one of a litter of six that had survived being taken from your mother and dumped into a garbage can. You looked like you had been through hell and survived, and I admired that about you. Because, at that time in my life, I too was battle scarred. I, too, had been through hell and survived. I figured that we would make a great match, and I was right.
You quickly grew and grew and grew into the fat, happy and lazy cat that everyone loved. After a few weeks, your patchy coat evened out, and I realized that you would have a beautiful, long haired mane. I attributed your long hair to your strength and survival instincts, and I named you after the biblical Samson. We both knew that you were more than a cat to me. I believe that God put you in my life just when I needed you. You were a tangible symbol of my own strength, and I grew to love you more and more despite your mischievous ways.
I remember our first Christmas when you batted at and knocked off each and every Christmas bulb that adorned my tree. (I still don't use bulbs to this day!) I remember when you got a bit to close to one of my candles and burned off your left whiskers. You looked pretty stinking funny for a good month until those whiskers grew back. Or what about the time that I opened the fridge, you hopped in to eat some tasty chicken salad, and then got stuck in there for an hour. When I found you, you had chicken salad all over your face. You meowed and hopped out of the fridge, as if to say, "Thanks for the meal." I remember how you gave your unabashed approval of Paul the first time that you met him by promptly climbing the couch behind his head and then falling asleep curled behind his neck. You have made me smile time and time again.
And when, Ab came along, I worried that you might be a bit jealous of the new star in the household. She was a loud, noisy and demanding baby, but it didn't phase you. You would hop up into her bassinet and curl your body around her little sleeping feet. My protector became my baby's protector too, and I couldn't have been happier.
And when E came along, and I walked in the door holding another wailing bundle, you did eye me suspiciously, as if to say, "Wasn't one enough?" I introduced you to the squirming E and you grudgingly sniffed him and approved. It was only later that you patiently allowed E to ride on your back like a horse. You were so patient! Not a peep or a meow did you utter, even when he would yank on your tail. And, when it was time for bed, I would often find you snuggled against E's feet too.
Your best days were the ones that you were able to eat real tuna fish, and then cat nap in the sun on the back porch. When we would call "Sammy!" you would perk up one ear and slit open one eye to check out the scene. Usually, you went back to sleep, but occasionally, you would hop down to get your ears scratched or your back petted. You loved to get scratched right above your tail. That would start your purr rumbling but good.
That's why it broke my heart to find you yesterday morning battered and broken on the front porch steps. I knew that you were hurt badly, but I prayed that your strength would save you. After meeting with the vets and determining that you were badly injured by a car, I knew that it was time for you to leave me. Truthfully, I was a mess, and my emotions were a jumble.
I never realized what an impact you had on me and the course of my life until that moment.
And, as I stroked your fur one last time, I was overcome with emotion and loss. You were a great cat, Samson.
I love you, and I will miss you dearly.
May you find birds of every color to chase in heaven.