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When a friend’s cat passes away, my heart hurts for my friend. When I lose one of my feline Reiki clients, my heart hurts for the cat’s guardian, and for the lost connection. When I connect with an animal during a Reiki session, I connect with the essence of that animal, and even though I never get to meet many of my remote Reiki clients in person, I form a strong attachment to them over the time that I work with them.

Cookie was both: a friend’s cat, and a Reiki client. She was also a tortie. Cookie belonged to animal artist Bernadette Kazmarski. Early this morning, at the ripe old age of 19 years, Cookie passed away after a long and steady, but gentle decline. As Bernadette writes in her beautiful tribute My Little Sunflower, “her green eyes looked directly into mine; we held each others’ gaze for a minute or more as she lifted her petite paw and laid it on the back of my hand, comforting me, saying goodbye. Then she shifted her position and her gaze and drifted from consciousness.”

Cookie, whose full name was Semi-Sweet Butterscotch Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, was named for her coloring, and her sweetness. She came into Bernadette’s life when a little boy, whose mother didn’t want the small kitten in the house and literally tossed her outside on a snowy night, brought the kitten to Bernadette’s house. He’d seen other cats in the windows of her house, and he knew she would take care of his little kitten.

For the past 19 years, Cookie was the matriarch of Bernadette’s feline family. She was Bernadette’s inspiration for her art, photography, and writing. She and Bernadette’s other senior tortie Kelly, were often featured in beautiful photographs on Bernadette’s blog.

But Cookie was so much more. Bernadette often called her her “lady in waiting,” a role Cookie played perfectly. She tended to Bernadette’s emotional and spiritual needs. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a special soul cat in our lives know what a precious gift that is. Cookie had Bernadette’s heart in all the ways that mattered.

A friend once told me that whenever she loses a cat, it feels like there’s another hole in a heart that already has far too many holes. She’s afraid that some day, there won’t be enough left of her heart to hold it together. But one of the gifts these beautiful cats give us while they share their much too short lives with us (and even when they live 19 years, it’s still never long enough) is the gift of love. And somehow, there always seems to be enough love left, and we eventually find the strength to open our heart to just one more.

I’m going to miss my Reiki sessions with Cookie. I’m going to miss seeing new photos of her sweet little face on Bernadette’s blog. And I’m going to tuck the memory of Cookie away in that special corner of my heart where the memories of all the special cats I’ve worked with live.

Photo © Bernadette Kazmarski

22 Comments on A tribute to Cookie

  1. Ingrid, this is a touching tribute to a very special cat. I wept when I read it and Bernadette’s post; my Annabelle is 18, so I know that someday soon I’ll be experiencing a similar loss. Thank you for another beautiful post.

  2. It’s always heartbreaking to read about pet losses, and I always wonder how I will bear losing my own. (I’ve never gone through that yet….)

    Someone on a cat list I’m on posted a poem called “You Have Chosen Tears”, and I think it’s the way most of us feel about our precious animal companions. The text would create a ginormous post, so I’ve found a link to one of the many places it’s available online: http://www.oes.org/page2/8647~You_have_chosen_tears_-_poem.html (Hope links can come through on posts!)

    I’ll be thinking of Bernadette.

      • Thank you, Amy and Ingrid, for sharing this poem. I’m shedding buckets of tears, which is my barometer for determining how meaningful a poem or story is. Oh, and greeting cards in the store – if it doesn’t make me cry, I don’t buy it! 🙂

  3. This is such a touching tribute. That she lived for 19 long and happy years is certainly no comfort now for her owner, I’m sure, yet they did have much longer than many of us get with our beloved fur babies. And I can’t think of a better way to go than holding paws, looking into each other’s eyes and feeling the shared loved. We should all be so lucky when it’s time to say goodbye. Oh, now I am all teary eyed!

    • No matter how long we have our special cats, it’s just never long enough, Julia. I hope that in time, that beautiful shared love at the end will bring Bernadette comfort.

  4. What a beautiful and peaceful passing….. What wonderful memories Cookie left with Bernadette, and you, Ingrid. Thank you for this tribute to Cookie, my heart aches for you both.

  5. What a beautiful tribute Ingrid. There are some cats that just touch our hearts and souls, and while I have not met Cookie personally, she was one that touched me nonetheless as I grew to know her from Bernadette’s thoughtful writings. What a special cat she was – my heart goes out to Bernadette and we will all miss Cookie dearly.

  6. My thoughts to Bernadette, Cookie was a precious baby. How sweet that the little boy knew to take Cookie to Bernadette’s home.

  7. Sympathies to Bernadette on her loss. My own tortie, little Vixen, my miracle cat, will have been living with me for 23 years in March, so she’s almost 24 years old! Plenty of issues with body parts wearing out, but her spirit is still so strong. Those torties have very distinctive personalities! Don’t know what I’ll do when I lose her, and am thankful for every new day we have together.

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