The abandoned kitten that Jeff brought home from work when Molly was brand new, the cat who slept on her or beside her for the last ten years like her appointed guardian, is gone tonight.

Last night we watched old 1998 videos of little Spooky chasing a clothespin on a string, behind giggling three year old Connor… or napping under a kid’s chin… or sprawled across baby Molly’s back (It’s a wonder she ever learned to crawl, as she was perpetual cat furniture.) We all sobbed, and laughed, and wiped tears.

This morning, the kids and I put her into a pet carrier, on the thick wooly lambskin we used for babies, and drove her to the vet. She had gone (in a month’s time) from a healthy cat to a painfully thin, anemic, feverish and weak one. X rays and ultrasounds showed tumors in her liver, and spreading through her lymph nodes.

The kids insisted that they wanted to be there while the vet put her to sleep. We were not brave… I cried long and hard. But when it was time, the kids and I put all our love into the palms of our hands and rested them on her head, her sides, her paws, thanking her for being our friend. She was the creature who came to live with our family during the “little kid” years, and seemed to love the little ones as much as we did, forgiving them their noise and chaos. (Our more sedate, older cat avoided the little shriekers with their whisker-pulling baby hands and unpredictable ways, preferring the company of adults.)

The vet gave her one shot to sedate her, and she put her chin on her paw like always, and looked comfortable and at peace. I made sure the kids wanted to stay for the final step (Molly opted to go visit a kitten in the next room) and then the vet gave her the second shot to end her life.

Before she took two big breaths and then stopped breathing, I felt an unmistakable purr in her chest. I know the vet could probably explain it as a muscular response to the drugs, but I didn’t ask. I’d prefer to think that she felt herself headed toward the light, free from the cancer and the failed body, born into whatever’s next.

It was a sad midwifing for us, though, and I’m sobbing again to write this down. The right thing to do, a kindness, I know. Only a cat, I know. But it has been a tearful day for us all, and I will miss her in all the places she used to be, in the days to come.

Spooky, we were lucky to have you in our family. You will be missed, and remembered fondly.