I moved to Seattle from New York in 2006, and after finding a temp job and crummy studio apartment, I immediately began combing Petfinder and Craigslist for a kitten. He was to be all gray, and I was going to name him Mojito. During my search for Mojito, I came across a listing on Craigslist for an adult female cat whose family was moving and had to give her up. There were no photos and few details, but something prompted me to email the owner. She sent back a couple of photos, and a few days later, Lonestar--renamed Scarlett--came to live with me.
I have dealt with depression for most of my life, and having to take care of Scarlett gave me much-needed meaning and purpose when I was foundering in my early-mid twenties. Scarlett would snuggle me relentlessly during my episodes, and would grip my finger or my arm with her little paw and hold on tight.
Scarlett retained a gleefully kitten-like demeanor until almost the very end. She killed socks by flinging them up into the air repeatedly, howling loudly to announce her kill until I told her what a good job she'd done. She chased springs and crinkle balls and pom poms, building stashes under every piece of furniture. She fiercely defended our house against the neighborhood outdoor cats by screaming like a banshee through the window.
Scarlett was with me every step of the way as I figured out how to become a (more or less) functional adult human. I defined myself, in part, as her person. I am writing this on the afternoon we lost her, and the idea of moving forward without Scarlett by my side is acutely painful.