I'd named her Lucy, after Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess fame. Her tendencies to push to the front of the food line, jostle the other cats out of her way when she wanted their comfy spot and take a hall-lengthed running leap to land on me in bed when I was deepest asleep fairly demanded a moniker such as this and she never failed to live up to it gloriously. Some of you may know that I have made something of a hobby of rescuing abandoned or abused cats in my immediate neighborhood for many years now. Once I win their trust, I bring them inside, clean them up and get them their shots and a spay or neuter job. Once I get them home, they happily remain indoors because, between the traffic, the target practicing neighbor kids and the occasional wild animal coming through, a cat hasn't got a snowballs chance in hell of surviving outside here. This means that I've often had as many as a dozen fur-babies sharing my home at any given time. In recent years, however, the previously steady influx of new borders has sharply declined since the section 8 dope-den apartments in the area have begun actually enforcing their long-standing no-pets rule. Now I am faced with a dwindling population of aging cats who have been with me forever and to whom I have grown thoroughly attached. One such was my Lucy, who suddenly crawled into my lap in the middle of the night, this week, breathing hard and mewling in obvious pain. Wondering for the millionth time why a cat never has a crisis during regular vet hours, I held her there until I could make an appointment the next morning and get her some help. The diagnosis was damning: enlarged heart, fluid on the lungs, air in the stomach, partial paralysis. The only thing left to do was to put her out of her misery. One thing I have learned in twenty years of cat husbandry is that when they go, there is most often little or no warning. One minute, perfectly fine; the next, gone. Another thing is that, as many of my friends as I have lost over the years to age and illness, it never seems to get any easier to say goodbye. I don't actually believe that it ever will. Rest in Peace beloved Lucy. I will miss that bomb-blast bed landing of yours that will never come again.