In the midst of the terrible tragedies facing so many, not just Sandy, which is but the most recent, there are also personal tragedies that hit closer to home. 18 years ago, the day before Thanksgiving, I brought home Sam, a medium-long haired part Siamese . We both were nervous, I think: we simultaneously headed to our respective litter boxes and stared at each other. Well, if you're going to bond, that's as good a way as any. Sam wasn't a lap sitter, he could be an aggressive boy, but he was also the most affectionate cat I've had the pleasure of sharing my life with. He was always talking to me about whatever he thought I should be doing for him - or not, as it may sometimes be. Not quite two years ago he was diagnosed with kidney failure - 10% function. He did well on a prescription diet. He started to feel a bit bloated a couple of weeks ago: vet had him on antibiotics which seemed to help. Kidneys were no worse; white blood cell count was quite high with no clear reason why. Then he faltered; we started a second round of antibiotics and tried upping his laxatives (possible constipation issues). Late the day before he died, his rear legs were too weak to support him which is a possible side effect of cat constipation and the pumpkin was supposed to take about 48 hours to act. My plan was to take him to the vet the day after if he had no relief. Being unemployed, we cuddled most of the day (he was too weak to protest). He died that evening. I occupied myself with "doing" - washing kitty beds, throwing out litter, returning cat food. Right now there is little visible sign of his presence in my condo but he is present in memories and photos. In his honor, in tribute, I will eventually adopt another cat when the right one chooses me. This is Sam at various times in his life. RIP, Sammy boy, you may have earned the nickname "Monster Cat" in your youth, but the great times far outnumbered the others. Sleep well, my and say "hi" to "Daffy" for me. Thanks, my big boy, for those wonderful 18 years of love and the occasional nips.