Dear Max,

When we decided it was time to say goodbye, I had the luxury of arranging for private time for our family. At the time we had a middle-grader and a pre-schooler. Both of them knew you and loved you. We went to the clinic together, the five of us.

In the interest of being transparent and teaching them that death is an important part of life, we brought them with us and explained as simply as possible: You had had a great long life with us, you were showing more than one serious illness and I didn’t know whether I would be able to help you feel well again. If we couldn’t give you good quality days, then it wasn’t fair to you. We felt it was the best thing for you that we euthanize you, which meant they had to say goodbye.

I explained as well as I could what would happen. First, I would give you a sedative with a pain reliever in it, so you wouldn’t hurt or be scared. They could each choose how much they wanted to see, and whether they wanted to be in the room with us. Once you were relaxed, I would inject a special drug to make you go into a deep sleep, and then that drug would make your heart stop and you would be dead. They could see you and pet you or talk to you any time while we were there, but then your body would be going away for cremation and they wouldn’t see you again.

Once the sedative took effect you were in a light sleep and more relaxed than we’d seen you in a few days. The trembling and struggling you’d been showing stopped, and somehow that meant to me that you were at peace with our decision.

When it came time to give the euthanasia injection, our middle-grader went to another room. She didn’t want to see what happened, and she patiently waited, although I knew she was nervous.

The pre-schooler was quite interested in every single thing that was happening. She stood beside me as I gave the IV injection, asking questions about the medication and about you. She wanted to listen for your heart to make sure, after I’d confirmed you were gone.

You were cremated with other pets, and your ashes interred in Guelph. We had a keepsake clay pawprint made, and you’ll be pleased to hear your little buddy kept it in her bedside drawer for several years.

I was sad to say goodbye to you, my black lapcat and study-buddy. And I missed your quiet shadow presence for weeks after you were gone.

My lap was cold.