My cat, Chet, sleeps by my side all of the time. Whether I’m sitting on my bed working on an article, writing a scatterthought, reading, or going to sleep, he’s often right next to me.

When I go to sleep at night, he often likes to be in the crook of my arm, sometimes with his head propped up slightly on my shoulder. This was the case last night, and as I was falling asleep I realized that he was watching me. He likes to watch me, probably as much as I like watching him. Sometimes he reaches a paw out and pushes against my cheek slightly (or, a bit less comfortably, against my eye).

As we lay there last night, I had a simple and powerful thought:

This is what unconditional love really is.

At that moment, I could feel Chet’s affection for me–a reflection of my feelings for him and his sister, Min. Nothing could ever break the bond or change the way I feel. And when I looked into Chet’s eyes, I could read the same thing in him. And if it’s possible, I loved him even more for it.

I don’t always appreciate Chet. Especially in the morning, when he continually bites and paws at me so that I’ll wake up and feed him. And I’m sure he doesn’t like the battle that we wage every day, with him trying to get fed and me trying to hold off as long as I can (else he’d eat all of the time).

But no matter what goes on, I know that he loves me and that I love him. Unconditionally. And nothing can ever change that.