That's what I said to Thor every day when I left the flat to go to work. I would, and he would. We kept our promises. That's how friendships work.
I have written about him here before. (you could look it up) Our relationship was forged from the first day we saw each other. He in a cage at the PetsMart and me looking for a new companion. Every other cat had a placard with an explanation of how they wound up there: My owner was allergic. I moved to a place that doesn't allow cats. He doesn't get along with my children. Etcetera.
Thor. Just the placard with his name and age, "Between 1 and 2 years." "How did he get here?" I asked. Nobody at the store knew. Somehow, he appeared - as if to wait for me? When I took him out of the cage, he placed a paw on my cheek. The shelter women were aghast. "He never does that with anybody!"
"OK then, I guess this is my cat," I said.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I saw him through the loss of almost all of his teeth, pancreatitis, weight issues, and kidney disease - which would ultimately be his demise. But, not without a fight. I found solace in the fact that, if it weren't for me, he would not have lived the life he did. He beat all of them, except the kidneys. Logic tells us that four out of five cats succumb to it. My heart tells me that he should have been the fifth.
My home is empty now. When I call, "Hey buddy, I'm home!" nobody comes to the door. He won't, except in my heart. I'll always come home to his nose poking out of my door, waiting for his dinner. You could sit on the deck and watch the birds, chew the grass in my flower pots, or just sun yourself in the warmth of its glow. It made me happy to make you happy.
We humans don't get many chances to help. People can help themselves. Machines run and fail. Grass grows, and flowers bloom without our help. With dogs and cats, we can pick them out of the darkness of their shelter cage and let them roam around our home and find their peace. It's what makes life worthwhile for some of us.
He returned the favor. He gave me unconditional love. When my life stunk and I wanted to give up, I couldn't, because he depended on me, and I was grateful to be in his service. It gave my life purpose to make him happy.
When he got sick, and needed fluid injections, pills, and special food to keep him going - it was a financial burden, but I took it on because I got a huge return on my investment - his love.
Eventually, as with all things, they come to an end. If you want a pet that out-lives you, get a tortoise or a parrot. Otherwise, you're doomed to relinquish their mortality on your emotional need. That's just the way it is.
In Thor's case (and this is about him) I felt like I should have been able to do more - but there was no more I could do. I couldn't force him to eat when he was so sick that food had no appeal. I couldn't make him sleep with me when all he wanted to do was be off on his own, under my desk. He's a noble beast, and doesn't want me to see him at anything other than at his best, even though he was suffering. It was his battle, not mine. I wanted to make it mine, but he would have none of it.
Finally, the illness claimed him. His tenacity and willpower would give-in to his pain, and he couldn't take it anymore. I came home and found him on the bathroom floor - prone and listless. It was painful for me to see, and I selfishly hoped that he would pick himself up and make another run at his food, but no. In fact, he had soiled himself, and when I got the carrier out to take him for his final vet visit, he climbed in as if to tell me, "It's time." He was crying, 'Uncle.'
The thought occurs: When I came home tonight, I couldn't find him. Eventually, I found him prone in the bathroom - where he never was before - prone and listless. Perhaps he was there because he wanted me to find him, and knew that it would be the first place I looked? It's extraordinary, but it makes sense to think that he would have wanted help in his final hours, and knew that he had to be in the one place that was open. They are smarter than us.
He fought a brave fight. Daily fluid injections, four medications, and countless attempts at finding something that he would eat. All for naught. In the end, he was better than me. He made the effort when I wanted to give up. He wouldn't let me give up because he wasn't worth giving up on.
Until the end, when it was just too much for either of us to endure. Finally, I had to say, "Goodbye."
You be good. I'll see you soon.