Last Updated on: February 3, 2012 by Ingrid King

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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