I was surprised to see this cat in my inbox. She was just a little too similar to my loud-as-h*ll childhood calico cat who died somewhat recently, but it made her even more fun to paint. I practically knew her face already. Tia was my first rescue cat, she was so small (and so was I) that she fit inside my doll house and would climb between the rooms roving for kibbles I hid throughout it. She was ornery, loud, and kind. Being very young and very sensitive, I spent so much time confiding in her during lonely years. She was bold and sweet and not-quite-pretty and not-quite-likeable for everyone, but she was my girl. We were too similar not to be in love. She died at a ripe old age last year, but that old heartbreak that comes when your animal friend dies never stops knocking the ground out from under me. Even when you expect it, even when it is at the absolutely right time, it is crushing.
(Left: Portrait subject, Right: Tia, my first cat.) The point is this: Love your family, whatever it looks like. Get an animal if you don't have one and love them fiercely. Sometimes people write to me about the pet that they recently lost (or not so recently at all) and apologize for sharing their story. You should never apologize. Losing an animal in your life is devastating and I've been there many times. I love hearing the little details and seeing photos of blurry sweet moments in addition to the paintable, still pictures. People. Don't worry, I hear you. Send them my way. And never apologize for how hard you love your pets.