“All mushrooms are edible, but some are edible only once.”Lithuanian proverb
All cookies are edible, but only one Cookie brings immense joy to your life for 14 years… and isn’t edible.
Cookie passed away.
Cookie’s fur was a combination of milk and honey, and if someone were to name the color of his eyes, I’m sure they’d choose “warmth.”
When I wrote The Meaning Behind My “COOKIE” Tattoo for his 14th birthday on August 2, I shared the story of how I adopted Cookie, what he represented and what he taught me.
By being himself completely, irrevocably, Cookie helped me in small ways to be more unapologetically myself, by being more like him.
Cookie is a reminder of a strong presence and a love so strong, pure, unconditional, that I had to get it tattooed.The Meaning Behind My “COOKIE” Tattoo
That article was a love letter to Cookie, God, the universe, the veterinarian.
There was a lot I didn’t share, though. Just before the pandemic, my brother and his family came to Albania in February, and soon after they left, Cookie’s health started deteriorating.
In March, he quickly started losing weight, vomiting frequently, lost his voice and had other health problems. The vet didn’t seem hopeful, and honestly, we also believed it could be the end of his life.
He seemed in pain during injections and didn’t react very well to medication.
Cookie made a complete 180, started doing better until he fully recovered. The last time the vet came to see him, he started meow-greeting her, walking around confidently, asking for food and attention.
Soon, he gained the weight and his voice back and was even able to do some incredible jumps around the house.
Cookie’s isn’t a sad story. It’s a story full of life, joy, resilience, funny moments, and attempts to get him to pee in the litter box. It wouldn’t be fair to him to paint his 14 years, during which he gifted us with 14,000,000,000 moments of joy with just his death.
Sadness is a normal, healthy feeling
So far, two people have told me “not to get sad.”
The first time, my neighbor said: “I don’t want to see you like this. Can you not get sad?” Disclaimer, this neighbor is a dear friend who meant well.
The second time just after we’d buried him, I was again told to “not get sad.”
Loss of a loved one should elicit sadness. It’s a completely normal and healthy emotional response.
Most times, I think people mean, “Don’t be sad in front of me and make me uncomfortable.”
The fact remains, most of us do not possess the emotional capabilities to offer help and support to someone who’s grieving. We want to help, but we don’t know how to.
A good starting place is not to invalidate the feelings of the other person. If you want to learn more about what to say and what to do, or if you’ve lost someone, I would recommend reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.
This isn’t a sad story
Death is natural, maybe the most natural thing. Cycles of beginning and endings are the way Earth works.
- Tear down a building, rebuild
- Bloom, wither
- Summer, winter
- A rising sun, a setting sun
- Birth, death
But the knowledge that it’s natural and “normal” doesn’t make the pain and grief go away.
For years, my forearms were covered in scratches and scars from playing with Cookie. I can still see some of them if I look at my skin for long enough.
He used to get under the couches and then come out, his paws looking for a play buddy.
Cookie made my childhood perfect.
When we ate, he often joined us at the table. Cookie would look at you, licking his lips, like he was trying to find the right words to convince you to give him some.
On the rare occasions where we stood our ground, he would take the food he wanted from the plate or as we were taking a bite.
I don’t think he ever realized I was vegetarian or that he was a big part of the reason why. Cookie just developed a liking for my food as well. That made me happy. He loved veggie sausages and kashkaval cheese.
Often, he’d wake us up with his meows, all up in our faces, like “time to go to school! Umm, and feed me 🙂, but I’m fine with cuddles till you fully wake up.”
He had a 6th sense, knew when we were approaching home, and started meow-welcoming us. We could hear him from the first floor.
Cookie was an independent cat, and I do think his strong boundaries inspired mine.
He had a thing for shoeboxes, and he loved eating exotic flowers that were bad for him and made him sneeze.
I’m happy and grateful that Cookie lived a long life. If we were to believe superstitions, his 14 animal years would equal 100+ human years.
That’s a long life! He had so much life going through his veins. He was healthy and strong and playful, and if I dare say, happy all his life.
What more could I ask for?
When I messaged my best friend to let her know, she said something that stuck with me: “He did live a long, happy life, and everyone who knew him loved him.”
What more could I ask for?
We spent hours petting him, caressing his beautiful tiny little face, keeping him warm and loved before he passed away.
Maybe I could spend some time praying he’s in heaven. Honestly, I’m sure that if there is one, that’s where he is and where all animals go. Of course, they do, they’re angels on Earth even when they’re alive!
Cookie was an angel, he’s just now a guardian angel as well.
He’s probably making new friends already, eating his favorite foods, breaking hearts with his playfulness, lion-like attitude, and warmth-colored eyes. Or maybe heartbreak doesn’t exist up in heaven.
He’s in peace.
What more could I ask for?
Rest in peace, angel. It’s been a real honor for our family to be with you these 14 years, Cookie.
Thank you, miço.
I’m not good at this, even when you told me about Cookie passing away, I couldn’t find the words to console you. I can’t imagine what you were going through. I lost a goldfish two days after trying to save it, and I cried the whole day, can’t imagine what losing a friend of 14 years feels like. I think the phrase “don’t be sad” is like a knee-jerk reaction and ppl say it without giving it a thought. I hope Cookie is in a better place ♥️ he looks like a little ball of love.
You’re the best, your consolation and support is always felt, whether expressed or not, but I think you’re not giving yourself enough credit tho. Animals have a way of getting to your heart, whether you’ve been with them a week or 14 years. I’m so so sorry for the fish 🙁 but I’m glad you were “able to be sad” and gave yourself enough time to process. Love!
I’m so sorry Delfina. Words are hard to come by at this moment. But I feel the warmth of your love for Cookie in your words. What a beautiful story. Keep honoring Cookie and he will never be forgotten.
Thank you Derrick, I’m happy to see I was able to transmit some of the joy he gave us via my last letter to him. His was a beautiful story indeed.
Thank you for putting your feelings into words. I can truly relate to them. I wasn’t and still am not able to put mine into words regarding this issue.
This part really hit me : “ For years, my forearms were covered in scratches and scars from playing with Cookie. I can still see some of them if I look at my skin for long enough.”
I still remember to this day, from those few times I met him, his weird and lovable personality.
It’s supposed to be easier, but they become family. A family that loves fully and unconditionally, nothing easier about letting that go. Thank you for sharing this!