My Little Sunflower

tortoiseshell cat looking through deck railing

Cookie in early December 2011, tired of having her photo taken.

Another star watches over me tonight. Cookie is with the rest of my feline family in the heavens, but her love is with me forever.

I saw this begin late Wednesday night, Thursday morning she could not walk, could barely hold her head up, had no appetite, even after a few palliative treatments including curled and purring on my lap outside on the deck. I put everything aside just to be with her and held her on my lap the rest of Thursday, carrying her with me, for as long as her needs determined, accompanied by one or more of the Fantastic Four at all times.

Around midnight being held and handled was too uncomfortable and she began slipping in and out of consciousness, breathing irregularly. I worked in my studio, the room where it all began for us, while she laid on the floor watching me as I added the color to block printed t-shirts and prints of her as “The Goddess” and Kelly with “The Roundest Eyes”. Each of The Four took their turn curled next to her, purring.

I laid down on the floor next to her at about 3:00 a.m. Her eyes moved around, focused on my face, opened fully as 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. Her breathing and heart finally stopped just before 4:00 a.m.

This hasn’t fully hit me yet, what my home and my life will be like without Cookie after 19 years of her cheerful personality, finding her with me at every moment in the house and out in the back yard, pleasantly vigilant, purring and gazing lovingly at me, simply happy to be near me and watch over me. There will be enough time to discover that.

I may have been posting about her and featuring photos and sketches of her here more often than usual lately; I’ve wanted to be sure she got as much attention as possible, and surely we appreciate all the love and energy everyone has sent our way. I have also been spending more and more time on her care as her needs have demanded and I’ve neglected to reply to blog comments and thank each of you, but I knew there would be time for that and it would be a healing thing for me.

For now I am rather exhausted and will take a few days off to rest and get my thoughts together, follow up on other things I’ve neglected and begin to get accustomed to the change. I think I saw the torch being passed to the next generation and already they are vigilant, but it will take all four to fill Cookie’s little pawprints in the time ahead.

But here is a little reading and image list about Cookie while I’m away.

Cookie and Me, Our 18th Anniversary Cookie’s rescue and her life with me, in her own words.

Cookie Goes to Work, three articles about Cookie’s job as my shop cat.

The Goddess Truly Inspires, a collection of stories inspired by people who have seen or purchased a print of “The Goddess”, Cookie’s true portrait.

Cookie Love, her progression into renal failure, with some of the nicest photos I’ve ever gotten of her outside.

In the Kitchen with Cookie, a link to all the photos of her interacting with pots and pans and mixing bowls in the kitchen.

And Daily photos featuring Cookie and Kelly.

See you in a few days when I can talk about her again.

tortoiseshell cat on deck with railing

I'll be seeing you.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

94 Comments on “My Little Sunflower”

  1. Mark says:

    There are no words…but if I say I know exactly how you’re feeling, then you’ll know it’s because I’ve been through this myself. My heart goes out to you and yours…

  2. […] The night Cookie died we were all in my studio and I painted new t-shirts for a while in an effort not to be too upset around her; me working on something and her watching me work was a lifelong activity we shared, and in her last few hours was likely a great comfort to her. For me, any creative work in my studio was relaxing and fulfilling and helped me to accept what was happening, and I’ve no doubt it was timed perfectly for me to be done and to catch that last truly conscious moment with her, when she looked into my eyes and put her paw comfortingly on my hand. […]

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’m so sorry about your loss, Bernadette. What a dear, sweet kitty. Sounds like she had a very happy life with you.

  4. I’m Thad. About a week ago I responded to your blog with a story about my Kramer. Then I went and re-read that Mr. Rogers book, and the cards from her vets. Thank you for your kind response. It meant a lot to me, and I want to return the favor. Because I’m sure you’re doing the same thing I still do. Looking at a favorite chair, a corner, a catbowl, where part of me still wishes I’d still Kramer. She was a trooper, just like your Cookie. I’m sorry to hear that she passed away, and I know the feeling, about how big a hole it leaves you, and me, and all pet lovers when the time comes.

    I have to look for it, but I got a wonderful email after my loss. That when we get to heaven, we’ll find pets all over up there. And the one’s we took care of will here our voice, and come running. You do incredible work, and I know the rewards aren’t always evident. Hell, that happens with my students as well as my pets. I’ve learned to pay attention, and it wasn’t easy. But the rewards are there, for the love you give to others. It always comes back to you.
    I’ve never liked “I’m sorry,” because it’s too easy for people to say. But I wish you the best. You never forget someone that was part of your family. But you should remember all the good they did for you, and that you did for them.

  5. Bobbi Hahn says:

    Dear Bernadette,

    I was just reading the latest comments to your post, so I’m in tears all over again. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see this outpouring of love and support from other people who adore their cats as much as I do, and who came to love Cookie and enjoyed reading about her, as I did.

    I hope you are doing well and finding some consolation from our words, and the knowledge that you did your very best for her through all the years you were together. My two furbabies are now 16 and 18, so I know that someday soon I’ll be traveling down that road; all I can do about that is to live each day with them to the fullest, and give them the best care I possibly can.

    By the way, how did you know about Island Writers? (Just curious.)

    • animalartist says:

      Bobbi, I just can’t believe the love. I am so glad I had the chance to share Cookie for all those who came to love her, and even though we mourn her loss I think the love and loss are universal for all us animal lovers. I could never feel alone, nor Cookie up at the Bridge with everyone else’s cats and dogs welcoming her as well as mine.

      About Island Writers, when I see a new name among comments I click on it to follow the link if there is one. I’ve found some of my favorite blogs and websites by visiting the sites of those who comment here, as I did with yours. Your post at that time was about being published in Island Writers, I was duly impressed!

  6. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved kitty Cookie. What a sweet cat! R.I.P.

  7. Lisa says:

    Bernadette, I was so sorry to see that Cookie had passed………………………….. I lost my Mikey, 3 weeks ago today………….. At least she was able to pass with you at home, safe in the surrounding love of you, and Kelly, Mimi, Jelly Bean, Mewsette, Mr. Sunshine and Guiseppe….

    Just know that she is now enjoying the sunshine at the Rainbow Bridge with the rest of your furry kids and my furkids and of those who have followed your blog….like me.

    Your blog is so meaningful and helps me to enjoy each and EVERY moment with my own furbabies…

    thinking of you……..

    Lisa and Mikey, and the rest of my fur family… including my black gang….. Dweezil, Inky, Zappa, Moon, Wildman, and Marika who is up at the Bridge with the rest of my crew….

    • animalartist says:

      Lisa, I remember you mentioning Mikey over the summer, I am so sorry for your loss. At some point we have so many at the Bridge that I feel like they are all together all the time. Thanks for your rescue efforts, and for your love and rescue of black cats. And for letting me know you enjoy my blog.

  8. Chrissykat says:

    I can’t read your post quite yet but hope to soon. I believe Cookie is in some the best company a kitty could hope for at the bridge. My sweet babies will make sure she is welcomed & loved.

    • animalartist says:

      Chrissykat, you don’t need to read it, you would pretty much know what I’m saying. I love the thought that all our kitties who gone before us are welcoming and playing with each other.

  9. Chris Davis says:

    Oh, Bernadette, I’m so very sorry. Cookie will never be forgotten – she lives on in your beautiful words, your photos and your breathtaking art. Her paw prints truly will dance forever in your heart!

    With purrs…and tears,
    Chris, Molly & Star

  10. Pam says:

    What a dear, dear kitty. I’m so sorry to you for losing her. I’ve also had a kitty who was a true soul mate. I know how it feels to lose a friend like that. Blessings to you.

  11. Bernadette how my heart is breaking for you. I am so sorry to hear about your beloved Cookie. 19! What a fine age, what a wise girl she had to have been!

    I lost my beloved Bobo when he had just turned 18. I know how it is to look for them around every corner, to have shared so many years and then suddenly not have them be there Bobo passed in 2007 and I STILL accidentally say his name, when I do, I know it is his way of communicating with me from the Heavens.

    Bobo has greeted Cookie with open paws, he will take care of her and she and Bobo will continue to look down on us to be sure that we are ok, we must be…so that they may rest in peace.


    • animalartist says:

      Caren, thanks to Bobo for welcoming Cookie, and yes, we need to watch our steps so they don’t have to come down here and take care of us!

      And you’re right, seeing him and accidentally saying his name are their ways of communicating with us; sometimes this is a painful reminder of their loss, but usually it’s a happy reminder of their life with us.

  12. Rayya says:

    Dear Bernadette. I am so sorry about Cookie’s loss. It hits home for me because I was just involved in sending George, my 19 year old ginger patient, to kitty heaven. I know how much you will miss her…Words fail to describe the big hole you are feeling in your heart right now. She was a stunning cat. I loved reading all your articles about her and seeing her photographs. I went with you on the journey of having her and losing her. May her beautiful soul rest in peace. Take care.

    • animalartist says:

      Dr. Rayya, thanks for visiting. Any loss leaves us all the less, but the memories fill some of the void. Cookie was stunning inside and out and I will always be so glad I could share her with the world.

  13. Andrea Dorn says:

    Bernadette, you are celebrating Cookie’s life, I can tell. Rather than begrudging her need to leave you at this time, you remember the wonderful days of your shared life. I’ve felt sad today without knowing why – until now when I read your post. I feel almost as if I’ve lost one of my own because you so graciously allowed us in on all you saw in that beautiful girl.

    Please take care of yourself and know, confidently, that Cookie still loves you and all of the time you gave her. Now I’m going to give Rainbow an extra hug………………

    • animalartist says:

      Andrea, one of my biggest fears after losing my cats has been that they would be forgotten. I’ve done my best to make sure Cookie will always be a part of the world through The Creative Cat and through the art I’ve created with her as the star. It was the best I could give her as I enjoyed all those years of love and support from her.

  14. DeniseL says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Cookie. You will both be in my thoughts and prayers tonight. I have no doubt that she is at the Bridge, looking forward to the day when you will be reunited again.

    Be at peace, sweet Cookie…

  15. animalartist says:

    I have one tortie on my lap right now, but Kelly is a very happy tortie. She’s been so confused.

  16. Melanie says:


    I am so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is, no matter how many times you go through it. I don’t know where my faith lies, but if there is a heaven, I’m sure Dorothy will much rather be with the animals and they will be very well cared for, Cookie included.


  17. Susan Mullen says:

    Bernadette, I am so sorry. You and your other cats gave Miss Cookie the best send-off possible, by being with her and showing your love and letting her love you. She is a new guardian angel for you now.

  18. Peg says:

    Sorry I missed your post earlier this morning. I’m so sorry for your loss. 19 years is a loooong time… a wonderful friendship and so hard to say goodbye. RIP beautiful Cookie and hugs to you Bernadette.

  19. Bobbi Hahn says:

    Dear Bernadette,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing such a moving story about your precious Cookie at what must have been a horrendously difficult time for you. You both are in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. My condolences. Hugs to you.

  21. Dawn says:

    The loss of a good friend is so hard to grasp. 19 years of love from this furry soul who was with you through so many experiences, providing love, encouragement and acceptance. Cats are such loving animals that it hurts so much to lose them. My heart breaks and tears stream down my face for this kitty I’ve never met, however feel I have loved through your blog. Wishing you happy memories Bernadette and Cookie – run free and play as a the kitten you once were at the bridge. Hugs and pawsitive thoughts being sent to you.

    • animalartist says:

      Dawn, I’m sorry for the tears but so glad you feel you knew her–what more could I want than a legacy for a kitty I loved so much and who gave so much to me? It’s my thanks to each of them, and especially Cookie, for changing my life.

  22. animalartist says:

    Apparently someone assigned Mewsette to me before she left this morning; I am very well cared for.

    A preliminary thanks to everyone, I am just back from a visit to Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation and truly grateful for all your kind words as I return to a house with no Cookie for the first time.

  23. Kimberly Helgeson says:

    The love that the two of you shared cannot be measured. Reading your beautiful words brought me back to a place I’m sure many of your followers have been and this is not a bad thing. When I’m feeling sad or lonely over the loss of one of my beloved pets, I always feel through it and try hard to end the sad thoughts with an emotional smile at how happy they made my life with the time we shared. My prayers to you, Bernadette, and the rest of the bunch. PS… I love all your pictures and written words. In the Kitchen with Cookie especially. Mirror image of my kitchen. Cats everywhere and into everything.You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • animalartist says:

      Kimberly, facing that sadness and grief is the best way to deal with it; pushing it aside dishonors your loved one. And if you truly loved, you will always find a smile. Cookie left me with many smiles, beginning with her antics in the kitchen. Even though it’s been a while since she’s done that and now there will be no more, I still expect to walk into the kitchen and see her curled happily in a mixing bowl or having a bath in an enamel pot. It’s bittersweet, but Cookie left me with 19 years of smiles.

  24. Sharon says:

    Dear Bernadette,

    May God Bless Cookie and may God Bless you. I know how you are feeling with the loss of my Snoopy who I had for 13 years. We all have one special animal that becomes our best friend.

    Cookie is now with Peaches and they can all play together and watch over you now.

    Please take care of yourself.


    • animalartist says:

      Sharon, when you told me about Snoopy, I looked at Cookie knowing we likely didn’t have much longer. We who love animals can share so much love and loss that it all mixes together and becomes everyone’s experience.

      By the way, I have your cards, this is why I didn’t get them right out to you. I know you’ll understand.

  25. Jody Vernay says:

    …what a wonderful life you had with Cookie, and she with you….her passing was so peaceful, as gentle as she. My heart aches for you, and I send you love…

  26. Patty Randolph says:

    Bernadette, we are sisters in heart today. I lost my 17-year-old calico, Fruitcake, on Monday. Like your Cookie, she was the matriarch of my household from the moment she entered, was our welcoming committee for every visitor that passed through the doors, and was my own special snuggler. She slept pressed against me every night. She often climbed up in my lap and wrapped her front paws around my neck so she could head-butt and rub her face on my face. There are definitely new stars in the heavens this week, and precious ones they are. I pray for blessings and healing for you, as I do for myself. Thank you for posting this so we could share.

    • animalartist says:

      Patty, all that physical contact, you must be missing her terribly right now. Fruitcake definitely sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime cat. Sometimes I think their loving spirit was needed by someone else, and so they had to go. I like to think of another person discovering the personality of a cat who was very special. Thank you for telling me about her, and blessings and healing for you too.

  27. Laurie and the "Girls" says:

    I almost cried as I read Cookie’s story! Her story and your loss reminded me of my Tortie girl “Kisses”. Kisses also was adopted as a stray kitten and when we went to name her my hubby said she looked just like a Hershey Kiss. Kisses gave us love and devotion for 18 years. There is truely something magical about Tortie girls! Keeping you and your fur family in my thoughts and prayers.

    • animalartist says:

      Laurie, I have to tell you that I used to call Cookie my little Hershey’s Kiss! She was kind of shaped like one when she was younger too though she’d lost weight over the years, but just last week I looked at Jelly Bean and called him a Hershey’s Kiss and it brought it all back. That’s the joy of all those years, memories that come back just when you need them. Thanks for your wishes.

  28. rumpydog says:

    I am so sorry my friend. Rest in peace Cookie.

  29. Roxanne says:


    You are such a Great Cat Mom. Your kitties are blessed to have you.

    Sweet, sweet Cookie. Your stories and photos of her have been so vivid, I feel like I have lost one of my own.

    Long distance love, hugs, purrs and kitty kisses from Mat, Abby, Annabelle, Ren and Yumi in PA (and me, too).

    • animalartist says:

      Roxanne, thank you. At a certain point all our animal companions belong to all of us, and while I cringe to think of having caused sorrow I also know that I’ve shared the joy of Cookie and her memory will live on. XOXOXO to you and yours.

  30. Karen Howell says:

    So sorry, I know it hurts!

  31. A gentle tugging told me to visit your blog today. Now I know why. There are no words to capture the magnitude of your loss. Just know you are in my thoughts and send healing purrs.

  32. I have grown to love and cherish Cookie through your writings and photos and am so saddened by the news. But, I can only appreciate and respect the love and time the two of you spent together. Despite the inevitable loss that we all have to deal with at one point or another with a pet, it is always worth it. In this case, Cookie brought her unique ray of sunshine into your life for 19 years, and I can’t help but think with each new ray of sunshine that enters your life, that it will be her sharing her love and warmth for you from above…

    • animalartist says:

      Deb, thank you for the beautiful thought. It’s been my joy to share my Cookie, and while we know when we adopt that our time will be limited, and I knew for a while that our time was limited, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of what Cookie and I shared. She was with me on this sunny morning as I filled the bird feeders, just as we did for more than a decade of her life.

  33. Maggie Forbes says:

    Ah, Bernadette. The circle of life. How you and Cookie enriched each other’s.

    I am so very sorry for your loss.

    With love to you, the Fantastic Four, Mimi and Kelly…

    • animalartist says:

      Maggie, thanks for reading, this is in part what I was trying to say last night but my thoughts were too jumbled, and Cookie is hard to express in words. Thanks for calling so I could talk at just the time when things were turning for Cookie.

  34. I am so sorry to hear this. You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. ((Hugs))

  35. Jay says:

    A wonderful story and with tears in my eyes I write this.
    Thank you for giving her such a wonderful home and life with you and all your little ones. She will be missed but not forgotten.
    That’s all we can wish for for ourselves and our loved ones.


  36. Esme says:

    Bernadette, I am so sorry for your loss. Miss Cookie was a sweetheart.

  37. Missy says:

    Bernadette, I am so sorry to hear about Cookie. My Nacho passed away last night in much the same manner. She was 14. But she lived a great life with us and Milan, Felix, and Murphy. Our thoughts are with you.

    • animalartist says:

      Missy, my thoughts are with you too. Nacho, the quiet tabby girl of your sewing studio. I’m glad you could be with her, and I’m glad she found you to take her home–I know she had a wonderful life with all of you, kitties seem to have you figured out!

  38. […] 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 […]

  39. We are so sorry for you loss….but what a lovely tribute to a wonderful friend. We are glad you had each other and know you will meet again. we are sending you lots of purrs….

  40. Karen Sable says:

    I am so sorry Bernadette. Cookie was a very special soul, and she will be waiting for you at the Bridge. My thoughts are with you.

  41. Tears in my eyes from your heartfelt and loving writing about Cookie’s peaceful passing, saying goodbye to her siblings, and then to you. I am so sorry for the hurt and sorrow you’re feeling, and hope that the stories and photos you’ve linked to, in your post above, can also bring on some healing over time. Hugs to you, Bernadette. This is heartbreaking.

    • animalartist says:

      Laura, I’ve been making sure Cookie’s posterity is well-covered with stories, photos and sketches. Being able to look through them brought me healing even before she was gone.

  42. CATachresis says:

    You are in my thoughts and prayers, Bernadette x Cookie’s departing will leave a big hole in your heart. So very sorry xox

  43. Heather says:

    So very sorry to hear this. Thinking of you in the days to come

  44. hi bernadette, i’m sorry for your loss. i know she had the best person with you …

  45. Karen Lucas says:

    Oh, Bernadette, how heartbreaking. I am so so sorry and so happy that you had Cookie for so long and that she could leave you peacefully at home. I am at work and must stop the tears before other people come in but you do have my deepest sympathy.

    • animalartist says:

      Karen, thanks for taking the time at work to reply, and that Cookie could leave me at home without intervention, just me and her and the young kitties she’d spent time training.

  46. Harry says:

    Rest in peace, dear Semi-Sweet Butterscotch Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. All our love, Bernadette.

  47. Anita says:

    With some tears – I’m holding You, and Cookie, tenderly in my heart. Such a beautiful journey you share together. The journey changes shape now, as she lives on in your life in memory and in Spirit. Cookie will always occupy a special place in your heart and life. May your grief soften in its own due time, and Cookie’s memory hold the Love that will never change. I wish you some Comfort, and Peace, as you move through the coming days.

  48. Vicki Cook says:

    Oh Bernadette – I’m so sorry for your loss, but I know that you were with her until the very end giving her the love and care she needed. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  49. Bernadette, I’m sorry you had to let Cookie go — but glad that she chose to embark on her new adventure at home and with you by her side. Both Derv Sr. and Keisha died at home…just slipped away quietly on their own…and I was grateful I did not have to make the decision, especially in Derv’s case. He, too, was 19 when he passed, and when they’re with you that long, they become kindred spirits that you share that special shorthand/code with.
    Phoebe & Co. and I send you love. The healing will come with time.

  50. Ingrid King says:

    My heart breaks for you, Bernadette. You’re in my thoughts.

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