On a sunny May afternoon, with the windows open and the finches singing and the branches of the old oak tree slowly swaying in the breeze outside, my husband and I sat beside each other on our living room couch, with Tabs, our beloved cat of 12 years, between us. I cradled him in my arms with his head draped over my right shoulder (always the right, never the left), while El Hub held his paws. For most of the creatures in the world, that afternoon was business as usual, but for us, time slowed as we said our final goodbyes and thank yous to our furry friend. As it sometimes does, the cancer won. I’ve experienced the loss of pets before, but never like this. Tabs was my constant companion and sounding board throughout the entire decade of my thirties, and with him by my side, I crossed major adult milestones — marriage, moving into our first home, exciting career changes, family emergencies, serious illnesses, pregnancy, child birth. He saw me at my best and my worst, and through it all, he was there with head boops, whisker kisses and brute force lap snuggles (did I mention he was 18 pounds?).