When we brought you home at just eight weeks of age, a tiny thing with new stitches from the Humane Society, I didn’t want a cat yet. Although a cat lover all my life and rarely without one, I was working full-time, attending college full-time and caring for a toddler. I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to care for someone else, but Indy and Wood Sprite wanted you so badly ever since they saw you on the website and fell in love with you. I even said you were ugly! I had no idea how you’d grow into your beautiful face, how you’d steal my heart, claim ME as your human and break my heart 11 years later.

Sky photobombed while Indy worked on my phone.

You were Wood Sprite’s second birthday present, but you decided to follow me around. Your purr was so loud that we often mistook it for lawn equipment. Your fur was so soft and warm that you easily replaced my heating pad, and often volunteered when I felt pain. In fact, you slept with me almost every night, often on my arm and pillow like a fluffier, haughtier human. Everyone commented on how friendly and social you were as you perched on laps, sniffed and claimed every purse or shoe and even won the heart of people who normally don’t like cats, like Aunt D. “What a pretty cat!” everyone would say. “A diluted calico,” I’d grin, knowing that was only a tiny piece of your story. “Sky likes me!” Kids would tell me. You shared your favor like no other cat I’ve ever had and made everyone feel a little bit better than they had before meeting you.

Wood Sprite named you after the sky the day you came home. It was cloudy and darkening but not stormy yet, just on the verge of nature’s tantrum. It fit you perfectly, and when we had to let you go yesterday when the vet announced that you were already dying, that it was likely cancer after all, that all of our forced feedings and medication had all been for naught and that we needed to just let you go with dignity, our insides broke. We’d already had you seen once and were hoping for a miracle after trying everything to give you another chance.

Wood Sprite expressed anger at the rest of the world continuing, people talking and laughing and daring to eat lunch while you lay there in agony. She said you left a hole in her heart. We talked about how those who take care of people’s pets like vets have the biggest hearts of all, how they have to hold everyone’s animals, not just their own, and grieve later. We talked about how you were the first pet she chose and named and ever loved and how that would always be in her heart, and she could share that with everyone she ever met.

The bright May sky seemed a disservice to your memory. The three of us cried enough tears throughout the day to make up for it, but nature honored you with a storm hours after your burial, honoring you in a way you deserved.

We thanked you for your love and presence in our lives as we held you and watched you still in our arms. We told you it was okay to go, that we understood and were grateful for the time we had even though in our hearts we screamed and sobbed and demanded more time, another decade of memories to clutch and another decade of years to postpone this terrible moment. You were buried in one of Wood Sprite’s baby blankets, tucked into one of her first and softest places to be swaddled, before we thanked you again and said a last goodbye. Even in death, you taught us about forgiveness and sacrifice, humility and humanity, and we will never forget you.

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