This morning I got a text message to tell me that Juniper, the cat, was missing in Shipton under Wychwood. She had not come in for the night. I was worried, but thought little of it, assuming I would find her later in the day, when I went out to visit. I did find her. I found her within moments of arriving at the house, but, sadly she was dead. She had been hit by a car.
Juniper was only just over a year old. She was born in August, in Herefordshire. Last year, having lost my accommodation with the university, left my DPhil and broken up with a 'significant other', I moved back with my parents. I was a bit of wreck, to be honest. But, six days after I arrived, I booked an appointment to go and see Juniper. In the October, she arrived, a tiny bundle of fun. She did what many people had tried and failed to do in recent times: she made me laugh. Not a polite, shallow, I am pretending to be happy laugh. A proper laugh. I was really grateful for that. It was with Juniper chewing my pen, that I began to put my life back together again. She purred support through a thousand applications, and created distractions when the inevitable rejections came. After 12 hour shifts sewing buttons on posh coats for the minimum wage, or filing the private correspondence of peculiar millionaires for the same, Juniper helped me wind down and relax. When I did get set up with good teaching jobs, Juniper congratulated me in her own special way. She licked my nose. At the start of the summer holidays this year, I went to cat-sit. Juniper brought in mouse after mouse. She was a good hunter. She loved chasing cotton reels at a very high speed around the front room. She used to catch them, and then hide them behind the curtain - a secret store. Later, usually when the house was quiet, she would find them again, and raise an almighty racket chasing them across the floor again.
Juniper brought all things new. Once she arrived, a house became a home. Everyone loved her. Today, five of my nieces and nephews were in our house at Shipton. Their parents were trying to think of different ways to explain the news. What do you say?
I am sad that Juniper is dead. I will always remember her as the cat that helped me get my life back. I hope she finds some decent cotton reels in cat heaven.