Cricket died early this afternoon. I was not present when she breathed her last. I'd gone out from 12:30 - 3:30, and she was dead when I returned. Though I wish I could have been with her (for my own curiosity as well as to comfort her), I'd already made peace with the possibility of missing her final moments. I know she was resting comfortably, and I'd given her a dose of her pain medication before I left, so she wasn't suffering. Her lights just went out.
Now comes the first task of the next few days: putting her body on ice to keep it here for the next day or so, kind of like a traditional wake for humans, so that I can come to grips with her death and begin the next phase of my grieving process.
Emails welcome at this time, but please don't call in the next 24 hours. I need the space to just be with her, deal with practicalities, and sleep. This has all been very exhausting. Thanks for all your understanding and prayers. I'll be writing more over the coming days.