First my leg was cold, and two days later, my feet - and now, a year and a half on, it's my lap that's cold. Alice was the last to go, hanging on, getting thinner and frailer but still ruling the roost, until today. For more than twenty years she lived here, apparently spurning the advances of anyone else in the family, but always friendly to me (which is not to say that she was an affectionate cat).
So that's another goodbye, at a stage of life that seems full of them. The team has dispersed, the animals no longer of this life, the offspring no longer on these shores: one currently in Peru, the other cycling through France. We will not even be calling this house home for much longer.
But it's not the end of the good stuff, just a change to something different. Next week takes me to the Northern Territory, next month South Africa again, and then the States and Canada. I won't this time have to arrange for someone else to provide the special care that Alice required; but I won't either have her grudgingly pleased to seek me out again on my return, to claim her spot on my lap in the evening and in my bed at night - though Won Ton, the Young Pretender from next door, has already made a move on her territory. Never mind, Alice: it's not your concern any more. RIP.