Several weeks later, I resigned from my job and started my own business so I could finally have a pet to love. My former assistant called me up and said "I know you wanted a cat. A friend of mine has a litter that was born under her porch and they've found homes for all but one." I was not terribly excited but I asked, "What colour is this cat?" She answered, "Oh, she's black and her name is Onyx but you can change that. Nobody wants a black cat because they think it's bad luck. But I knew you wouldn't mind." I almost collapsed but instead drove directly to her friend's house to meet Onyx. She was the tiniest little thing and fit into the palm of my hand. All the others were gone and mommy was agitated that her last baby might be gone, too. I tried to allay her fears, then Onyx came home with me.
She came to us as a wee baby with blue eyes. Her second day with us, she came sailing and we discovered she had great sea legs. She loved prowling the decks at night, watching the fish swimming beneath the waters. She loved visits by the seabirds that swooped down squawking at the rail above her on the 'poop deck'. She loved smelling the air and looking at the people in new harbors we visited. She loved cuddling with us on cool evenings.
She and I played games when she was young. I taught her rope, and box, and hide and seek. She taught me tag and foot and chase the feather duster. We ran around the house and the boat giggling until we both collapsed in a heap to rest. She brought home chipmunks as pets and tried to keep them inside while Alex and I tried to chase them outside. She taunted the local dogs who called her "kitty karate" and chased after the squirrels and birds like normal cats do. She went on walks around the property with me and always made sure I was following. But she did all these things less frequently as she aged, as we all do.
Did I mention that from day one, Onyx would eat only seafood? Yes, her favourite is shrimp and lobster. After that any white fish will do. The occasional oyster and cloisin goes down well, and naturally so do the prawns and crawfish. She prefers salt water fish over fresh water varieties, which leads me to believe that she comes from a long line of seafaring kitties. No vermin could survive her persistence and no seabird that landed for a rest would be left unattended for any length of time.
She has also crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, which gives her more sea miles than most sailors I know. She has done what so many wish to have done: seen dolphins and whales at sea, had flying fish for breakfast, and watched the shooting stars cross the night sky overhead.
She's seen rainbows and moonbows, ridden out gales and slept through calms. She is best at taking naps, in fact I'd say she's a champion in that regard. But she is also an excellent nocturnal crew member and sounds the alarm if anything is amiss.
Onyx kept me company when my sister died and my mother died, both of cancer. Now my little girl is very sick with cancer, too. Chondrosarcoma - aggressive and rare. My heart bleeds to see her hurting. My heart bleeds to know I will soon no longer hear the pitter patter of her little feet on the wooden floors and the shake of her bell to let us know where she is. My heart bleeds to know there's nothing I can do but comfort her as best I can.