It was just a few days into my summer vacation after 3rd grade that we welcomed a new member into our family. Our beloved cat Sandy would be part of our lives for the next 17 years. The first time I held him I was a little girl. The last time I cradled him I was married and pregnant with my first child.

About a year after Sandy’s death, my mom wrote his story. It was published by our local Humane Society to help highlight Adopt-A-Cat Month.

Here are some excerpts from what my mom shared about our Sandy:

It was a June day that our family adopted Sandy from the Wisconsin Humane Society. And it was a June day that I took Sandy to the veterinarian for the last time. Those intervening seventeen years held a wealth of life experiences, sad and happy times, made richer for having had a family cat in the scenario.

Sandy was six weeks old when we got him—a warm, cuddly furry ball. He was right for us and we were right for him. We remember well his passion for fresh cantaloupe, his purring sounds when we’d hold him close, his big, beautiful eyes that matched his coat, his fastidiousness, his chasing snowflakes or blowing leaves with his paw through a window, and his drinking of the water out of the fishbowl while leaving the fish alone.

When the children left home, I felt there was a bit of them still with me because of Sandy’s presence. He was always there. The nights when my husband was away on business, Sandy somehow sensed that and never left my side. I never felt alone—for there was life in the house. Some people contemplate a sunset or a flower to appreciate the beauty of nature. I found the same appreciation of God’s creation in Sandy.

After my second mastectomy, I vividly remember coming home from the hospital, picking up Sandy, burying my face in his fur, and crying for the first time since my surgery. That’s what is special about a family pet—you can share your feelings without fear of causing concern to someone you love. Perhaps what you’re really doing is sharing with God through this living thing you hold in your arms.

Sandy’s life was marred by two illnesses. But he weathered those storms. At the end he started filling up with fluid. The vet said that at seventeen there was a good chance it was his heart or maybe a tumor. The kindest thing I could do, said the vet gently, was to put him to sleep. I guess I knew I’d hear that, but it was still a very hard thing to do. I called my daughter to say I wouldn’t be bringing Sandy home. She understood. Tears filled my eyes. The decision was made. This was, indeed, a lesson in coping with the death of a part of a household.

A week later I had my yearly cancer check-up, and for the first time in years, the doctor didn’t order a chest X-ray. I had really made it. Strange that Sandy would have been there for me almost until that day—a bit of life from the Creator to brighten my days and the family’s for so many years.

Mary from Wisconsin