Saying Good-Bye to My *Real* Firstborn

We had just returned from a harrowing 30 hours at the hospital with Drew — an ordeal I will share with you when I have the strength later this week, but I will spoil the ending:  he’s on the mend now, thank goodness — when I looked around the living room, struck with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

“Where’s Marcy?” I asked Mr. Candy.  It wasn’t like her to not run down the stairs the second we walked through the door — especially considering I, her favorite person in the world (if I do say so myself), had been gone for a couple of days.  I was on high alert because Marcy had been having coughing fits for a while now and, although I’d tried to convince myself she just had allergies, I knew in the back of my mind that it could be a symptom of something worse.  Way worse.

When I found her lying at the top of the stairs, a strange place for her to take up residence, she was breathing heavily.  Her frame, once full and fluffy, appeared alarmingly gaunt.  We attempted to lure her with her favorite dinner; she sniffed it and attempted to take a bite, then turned away.

“Should I take her to the vet?” Mr. Candy asked.  I nodded, choking back tears.  This was my real firstborn, the kitty who hopped into my lap and wrapped her paws around my arm when I met her eleven years ago — choosing me and thus throwing my original plan of getting a male kitten straight out the window.  The kitty who kept me company when I first moved to Los Angeles, comforting me when my dad had his stroke and being one of the only constants in my life as I got married, moved several times and had two kids.  The kitty who adored being walked on a leash — purring as soon as I would get it out — and cuddled beside my baby bump when I was pregnant.  This was the kitty who allowed Skye and Drew to do pretty much anything to her without protest, including putting blankets on her like a baby, smothering her with vice-like hugs and (accidentally) falling on her.   The thought of something being wrong with this cat, this one-in-a-million pet, was more than I could bear.

Later that night, I got the call from Mr. Candy:  Marcy had heart failure.  Already exhausted from our stay at the hospital, I could feel the floor fall out from under me.  As I attempted to mute my sobs, Mr. Candy explained that we had two options:  drain the massive amount of fluid from her lungs to give her more time or put her to sleep now.

“How much time would she have if we drained the fluid?” I asked.

“About a day,” Mr. Candy said, trying not to cry himself.

Dying from heart failure is a miserable way to go, causing the pet to painfully gasp for every last breath, so we made the heart-wrenching decision to put her to sleep.  Mr. Candy said his good-byes, then came home to stay with the kids while I went to the vet to have my last final moments with my sweet Marcy.  Even frightened out of her mind and mildly sedated, she purred when they laid her in my arms.  After we had our alone time, the vet came in to end Marcy’s suffering.  I was the one who was there when she came into our life and I wanted to be there for her when she left — so I held her as they euthanized her.  Marcy laid down on the blanket on my lap, just as she had done countless times before, and within seconds, life escaped her body.  It was peaceful…and yet so very haunting.

But this is how I choose to remember our girl:  sweet; fluffy and clean (thanks to her OCD cleaning habit); full of life; and unbelievably tolerant of a three-year-old’s hug-slash-stranglehold and her mother’s strange penchant for kitty hats.  Our crazy family won’t be the same without you, Marcy.

Because sharing is caring, as I tell my kids. (Except my wine. Never my wine.)
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Candy Kirby

Candy Kirby is the founder of The Laughing Stork and a professional fun-maker who will never stop chasing her lifelong dream: to find the Pomeranian or porn star after whom her parents must have named her. A humor columnist for Disney, Nickelodeon, Scary Mommy, Reductress and Redbook, she also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats, the latter of whom are the real brains behind this operation (so send all complaints to them).

27 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The day my husband and I put our beloved dog down remains one of the most difficult days ever. We had never had a day as a married couple without her. I am heartbroken for you and the family.

  • My kitty of 17 years died when I was pregnant with my first child. It is heart-wrenching to lose a furry family member. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  • I am so very sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my positive thoughts and prayers.

  • Thanks for your kind words, everyone. I’m sure many can empathize with the loss of a “fur child,” as the vet called her.

  • I lost my “real” first born two years ago this February and I still miss her everyday. My heart goes out to you and your family. It’s a terrible thing, but best for the pet you love so much. Hang in there.

  • When I read this, I had to choke back my own tears. People don’t really understand how hard it is to lose a pet unless they have their own ”fur child” (I am stealing that and calling it my own, don’t tell your vet) I have been an avid reader of your site back when it was called holy candy and I loved the Marcy and Matty stories. My heart goes out to you and your beautiful family.

  • I am so very sorry for your loss. I know how difficult that is, and how brave you were to hold her as you said goodbye.

  • I am so very sorry, having lost 2 cats in the past 6 months I can totally empathize. It’s really hard having to say goodbye to our furbabies and explaining it to our toddlers, they really are a part of the family! ?

    • Two cats in six months? You poor thing. They most certainly are a part of the family. I definitely feel for you and your family.

  • I went through the same thing this year. My sweet kitty I knew longer than my husband and had been around longer than any other friend. 🙁 I had to get three more cats, just to help get through 😉

  • I’m so sorry. My mom had to go through something like this with her dog, the faithful companion of many walks, who had arthritis so badly that finally the painkillers weren’t enough anymore. She said the look of peace that came over her when the drugs went in made her realize how much pain she had been in constantly. You did the right thing and I can’t imagine how hard it was to say goodbye.