I looked into her eyes as the strong sedative took hold of her tiny, sick body. I stroked her furry cheek and said sweet words in her ear. Candles were lit, piano music was playing, and everyone she loved was by her side. I knew she could hear me as I read her a poem we had written earlier in the day, called Our Little Happily Ever After. She may not have understood the words, but she knew I was professing our love for her presence in our life. As the vet administrated the final injection that would take her life, I could visibly see her spirit leave her broken body. No longer sick, no longer trapped.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced a beloved pet die, but it was the first time it was by choice through euthanasia. I lost my precious Kitten almost four years ago at the young age of three in the middle of the night, and she died in my hands of an unknown killer. I was so unprepared, I didn’t know anything about what would happen next. Her body was taken away by my sweet parents and given to the Humane Society to be taken care of. If I had known better, I would have had a death plan in place for her. I would have kept a snippet of her fur, I would have had her cremated. Everything about her life being taken away from me so abruptly hurt to the core.

This time around, we knew something was wrong early. Azza has always been a sick kitty, fighting off and on with upper respiratory infections since she was very young. She was probably a runt, only clocking in at 6.5/7 pounds on her best days. Her immune was undoubtedly compromised, which made her a prime candidate for what eventually took her life at 2 1/2 years old – FIP (dry). There is no cure.

Beyond sickness, Azza was a beautiful soul that brought us tremendous happiness. She was spunky, independent, silly, and gorgeous. Her bright green eyes would light up at seeing her daddy, her favorite person to ever walk the planet. Even I couldn’t be mad about it, as their connection was something truly special. I was just lucky enough to bask in her glow on a daily basis. She was also a special sister to our other animals, all of whom loved her in their own unique ways.

With Azza’s passing, we were so fortunate to have options. Our vet, Dr. Simmons at Decatur Village Vets, was a rock as we faced hard decisions that were a lot like shooting at a bullseye in the dark with a crooked arrow. Once we all decided that it was time, he told me about a wonderful organization called Lap of Love, a hospice provider for pets that also provides at-home euthanasia. We decided this was the best option for us as Azza hated car rides and especially hated vet visits. We wanted it to be done in a place that felt comfortable for her, and for us.

We decided to be present for the passing, and I looked at her square in the eyes as it happened offering as much comfort as I could. Not everyone chooses to be present for that final moment, and I can see why. It’s something that will rock you to your core. But neither James nor I could imagine not being there. So we did it. I think it was a peaceful experience for her.

I miss her so much. I miss her tiny meow, her fluffy coat, her little soul that was bigger than life. I know people have their own beliefs about what happens after we leave our physical bodies, and I don’t normally share my personal opinions. However, I truly believe that we all have an energy or spirit that occupies this shell we move around in, that lives on once our body dies. It’s not the end. I don’t dare assume to know what that afterlife is or what it’s like, but I have a feeling that it is beautifully complex and beyond our wildest imaginations. I hope Azza is with all of those we have loved and lost, waiting on us at the rainbow bridge.

Please check out #azzakitty on Instagram for an exploration of her life with us.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss