Thursday, February 22, 2024
adopting a catanimal rescuecatsEmeraudeessayfoster catsJojoLakotapet loss


pastel sketch of cat
“Emeraude”, pastel, 7.5″ x 6.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

We’ve come to the end of our journey together, and Emeraude has gone to greet Lakota, who’s been waiting for her.  The good parts of her days have grown more and more brief, and last night, though weak, she did one final tour of all the things she enjoyed—wandering the studio, settling on the blanket by the furnace vent, greeting the boys, hopping in the tub—and today refused all comfort. It is not unexpected. It is time.

I have been gathering my thoughts for the past few weeks.


She must explore
and open the door.


We are so fortunate to have shared our time with the wise Lady Emeraude, who showed us that, even at her age, life is an adventure. She had lost everything that was hers all her life but accepted the friendship of five black cats, and even managed to steal a treat from Giuseppe a couple of weeks ago when I tossed them out to enjoy on the floor together. Just a week ago she would still walk purposefully into my studio, open the cabinet doors and look in, studying what was on the shelves, peer under the tables and inspect the area under my desk and look at me sternly as if it didn’t meet her standards, and it certainly didn’t contain anything of any use, at least not to her. Even at nominally 20 years old, and with an end-of-life condition, she still had the incurable feline condition of curiosity.


A cat is a cat, no matter her age.


We are honored to have given her a home for her last few months, and happy that she felt comfortable enough here to explore as much of her new home as she was able, to mingle with and become a member of our feline family, and to find a few spots where she felt truly comfortable and at home.

Of course I knew when I agreed to take the two of them in June that we would not have a lifetime together as we usually expect when an animal companion joins our lives, and that we probably wouldn’t have much time at all, that loss was imminent.

But their loss is mine to bear. We don’t rescue for ourselves. We rescue for those animals who need homes, in whatever condition and for whatever amount of time they have or need. We rescue to save lives. When the alternative to being rescued is death, my feeling of loss is but a small burden in the face of their untimely loss of life.

A lifetime of other felines have taught me how to care for cats at the ends of their lives, whether those lives were short or long. They’ve also given me plenty of experience in letting them go as they’ve faced their ends with grace and dignity. I was well prepared by all these others for Lakota and Emeraude and what they brought to my life.

I’ve been remembering that Cookie died two years ago tomorrow, and that my mother died three years ago last week, and I’m somewhat immersed in this whole process right now. For the past few days I’ve felt that restlessness and inability to focus I mentioned in my article “On Dying and Death, and Remembrance”. Yesterday I gave in to my inability to focus on other things and focused on Emmie, knowing the time had come. This morning I’d hoped she’d have just an hour or so of her regular routine but that was not to be, so I made my calls and prepared all I needed to.


On good days she investigates;
on others she rests and remembers.


Of all the beautiful things I will remember about Emeraude is her joy in discovering something in her new home that she could own. I remember her person telling me that it was usually Lakota who would jump up to look out a window but Emeraude rarely did, and he did just that when they came here. But shortly after we lost Lakota I began to find Emeraude on the windowsill too, in both my studio and bedroom as well as the bathroom, but the bathroom was her favorite. I could feel from her that being on the windowsill, feeling the sun and the air through the screen, watching the trees and hearing the birds, was exceptional, it was perfect, it was her favorite thing, in the way that cats own experiences and things they enjoy. I was so enchanted at finding her there, and full of her happiness, in my way of owning something and expressing its perfection, I silently positioned myself to photograph her each time I saw her without disturbing her, and painted my first daily sketch of her, at the top of this post, on August 20, 2013, all the green leaves and bits of sky, the summer air on her face, warm sun pulling mahogany highlights from her fur. It brings to mind the lyrics from a song, “…In the shade of this old tree / in the summer of my dreams / by the tall grass / by the wild rose / where the trees dance / and the wind blows / as the days go oh so slowly / as the sun shines oh so holy / on the good and gracious green / in the summer of my dreams…”, titled “The Summer of My Dreams”. Of course, I sang it to her.

I painted another sketch of her at the beginning of November, at the end of this post, surrounded by yellow leaves and warm autumn sunshine, just before she began to feel unwell. I had suggested at that time that I’d paint Emeraude on her windowsill in all four seasons, hoping she’d make it to spring. I didn’t get a chance to paint her there for winter, though I have a photo; by the time the weather turned and all the leaves were gone, she wasn’t spending too much time there and I’d been waiting to catch her as she enjoyed the moment, as I prefer to do my sketches. I will paint this, and I will contrive one for spring, in her memory.

Thanks to everyone who has sent loving, healing thoughts from the time they arrived to now. Emeraude, and Lakota, thrived in their warmth. And most of all, I hope that following the experiences of Lakota and Emeraude have encouraged all of you to take an older cat into your home. Look at all that the three of us accomplished in just over six months, and counting in the Five we were quite a family. But Emeraude and Lakota will always be counted among my family of felines, we shared our lives for this time together and shared a bit of our hearts, and that is what rescuing is all about.

pastel painting of cat on windowsill
“Emeraude’s Autumn Afternoon”, pastel on pastello paper, 9″ x 7″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Don’t let the fear of loss keep you from love.

Let the knowledge that we will lose things we love urge us to love them even more while we have the chance.

Sonnet 73

William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.

This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

May we love well all the things we love, for as long as we can.

. . . . . . .

Read more about Emeraudeand her adventures in our household.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

© 2014 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski



From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

58 thoughts on “Emeraude

  • walksoftlyand

    You write so beautifully, Bernadette, and your well-chosen words inspire. I will keep the mental picture of Emeraude-on-the-windowsill in my mind — a source of peace, a reminder to find joy in the moment, and an affirmation for the comfortable acceptance of whatever we are given. Emeraude was magic you have shared with us all.

    • Thank you, Meg. She will not be forgotten, and we enjoyed every moment she spent with us.

  • Pingback: Two New Cards, for Emeraude | Portraits of Animals Marketplace

  • B, how on earth did I miss this? Deep belated condolences on your loss. I remember reading about Emeraude’s arrival, smiling at your pluck to give her the best last days of her life and you did. Bless you. And yes, a cat is a cat is a cat, no matter how old. They are all treasures and the pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow.

    • Layla, I think it was a time when you were spending time with Merlin. Don’t worry if you missed it, that’s what blogs are good for–the articles are always here. I couldn’t imagine my life without Emeraude even though she was only here for six months. Thanks for stopping by–and I read you as well, but rarely comment, you know how it is.

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  • Sharon

    Dear Bernadette,
    I am so sorry for your loss of Emmie-I know you loved her and took the best care of her. She was a beautiful cat and I looked forward to her stories and pictures. You treat all your cats equal and love them equally and that is what really counts.
    Thank you for all that you do for your rescues.

    God Bless

    • Thank you, Sharon. I’m still remembering her and her was a week later, and also working up some ideas including Emeraude.

  • It never gets any easier. I am so very sorry about Emeraude. My condolences. She couldn’t have had a more caring Mom, though. It’s rough;really rough, but will keep you in my prayers.

    • Thanks, Allia, I was happy I could do this for her, I can take the sadness of her loss for having made her happy.

  • Sympathy, peace, and comfort go out to you; I am so sorry you lost beautiful Emeraude. What a lovely tribute and wonderful record of her life and your caring, of making a difference in the life of an elderly kitty.

    • Catwoods, it was my pleasure to be with her for her last months. Thank you for your comforting thoughts.

  • I too have followed both Emeraude and Lakota’s story from the beginning and now the end of their time here. There is such a bittersweet parting with dear Emeraude, a final note played, that rings with a tinge of great sadness, yet she gave and received such love these last six months. I have come to realize that they way cats perceive a thing is so different from the way we do. For her this was but one more step in her journey, I am just glad she was able to find comfort and joy with love there with you. Thank you for sharing her and her story, their story.

    • Thank you, Angel Abby, for your poetic dedication to Lakota and Emeraude, and especially to our girl. It’s true they see things very differently from the way we do, and while I feel more confident of my abilities as a human with kittens and younger cats, I completely submit to the guidance of seniors in their needs. Their skills are far superior to mine, and I only hope my intuitive skills at understanding their messages are not clouded by my will or ego. In return we are rewarded with the love and trust of an experienced heart.

  • Such a beautiful tribute to Emeradue, she is a beautiful soul. That she’s now with Lakota is comforting. While her leaving wasn’t really a surprise, the way she stole my heart and filled it in this virtual space certainly was. There was just something so pure, so classy, so… I don’t know almost transcendent about her. Bless you, Bernadette, for giving her a wonderful ending to her story. I will never forget her.

    • I really think she found a special part of herself while she was here, Lynda, and I know she enjoyed every minute.

    • Lynda, I meant to add, but the phone rang! Ah Monday.

      That was why I felt the urge to give her a new name, a “pretty girl name” as I called it. She changed after he died, and I just couldn’t call her Jojo anymore. She was really a new cat after that and a pretty French name, a gem, and especially a title, “Lady Emeraude”, was entirely fitting. It’s a joy when they turn around and accept their new life as all my rescues did, but as another senior, Peaches did, literally, after a long life with someone else to just look at you and say, “Okay, you’re my human now, and I’m going to be who I am with you, not who I was.”

  • We are so sorry for your loss. Thank you for having the courage to take in seniors like Lakota and Emereaude. We know that they appreciated your love for the time they were with you, and we hope that your example helps others be brave enough to take in cats they won’t anticipate making full lifetimes of memories with. Like Emeraude and Lakota, they are all deserving of love and homes. Sending warm thoughts to you on a sad day.

    • Gang, I only have the courage to take in two seniors because of all the other seniors who’ve been part of my life and left me with lessons you only learn from experience. I hope others can also see what a joy and inspiration older cats can be. It was a joy to get to know them and see their love and trust.

  • Pingback: Emmie « Desván Gatero

  • Wonderful, beautiful tribute…
    Expecting it to happen anytime, here I am moved to tears. Amazing how a little old black lady could reach my heart through the virtual space -I’m so grateful for small mercies as Internet connection- this had been a long distance relationship but a luminous one. I’ll miss her.
    Once again, thanks on her behalf -eventhough I’m sure she did it for herself- for caring and loving and giving her a home during this stage of her life. Thanks for sharing the experience with us amd made me fell in love with her.
    Lots and lots of purrs for all of you… fantastic human and non-human people.

    • Maru, I thought of you yesterday, I know how you loved Emma, and I’m so glad I had the chance to share her with you, across the miles and across the languages, but love knows no boundaries.

  • What a lovely tribute to Emeraude. She was so fortunate that she got to spend these last few months with you. No matter how short a time they spend with us, they still take a piece of our hearts with us when they leave. Fly free, sweet Emeraude. You’re in my thoughts, Bernadette.

    • Ingrid, the fortune was all mine, to have a tired old kitty decide to turn around and be a part of life here because she enjoyed it so much. Animals have an endless supply of love, right up to their very end.

  • Denise

    Run free at the Bridge, beautiful Emeraude <3 You shall be dearly missed…

    • Thanks so much, Denise, and thanks to you for your kindness to elderly cats and dogs who need homes!

  • Thanks for caring so much everyone!

    After I handed Emeraude to Deb Chebatoris, I left to pick up a few things, including some yummy canned food for my good, good kitties. They were grieving too, they have been part of this whole process, especially the last few days, and witnessed everything today. They had a lot of nervous energy so we played and then we had treats and then we had dinner and then we just sat together kind of quietly while I listened to a recorded book. I had to tell myself to sit still when I thought, “I have to go upstairs and check on Emeraude.”

    I have finally come upstairs and of course the bathroom door was open and she was not there, though her bed is still there. I stepped into the dimly-lit bathroom to contemplate just a bit, I leave the radio on the classical station, and Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” simply began in its quiet way as if it had been waiting for me to enter, a perfect accompaniment to my thoughts. I hadn’t realized how tired I was, but I sat up late with her last night, thinking she might go into distress or pass overnight, and got up early to be with her today, and I’ve stayed up late for many nights lately trying to convince her to eat. I may just go to bed at a normal hour!

  • Beautiful tribute. Beautiful Emmie. Go in peace and know you are loved.

    • Thank you, Colehaus Cats, Emeraude was definitely a spiritually beautiful being as well as physically beautiful. She wasn’t too sure at first, but I’m sure she figured out how we felt about her.

  • A lovely tribute for a lovely ladycat, Bernadette. It’s true what you say — each rescue cat does become a part of us, no matter how long or short his/her stay is.

    • And Tammy, it really is like a big family, not like a collection as some people think, and each of them has a little part of me.

  • Such beautiful words and artwork, especially the sketch with Emeraude surrounded by yellow leaves. I’m so very sorry for your loss, Bernadette.

    • Thank you, Chris, it’s a beautiful memory and I remember how quietly happy she was, totally unaware of me sketching.

  • My heart aches tonight..thank you for the love and peace you and the 5 gave to this lovely lady..RIP Sweet Lady Emeraude..

    • Nancy Blue Moon, Emeraude is happy now, and free. Thanks for standing by us and always sending love to her.

  • We are sorry that Emeraude has gone to the Bridge.
    We are happy though, that her last months were spent
    in a loving environment,many with Lakota.
    Thank you for giving them a place to live out their lives.
    We know you are sad and we send you purrs and hugs.
    That was a lovely tribute to a beautiful kitty.
    Hugs,Nancy and the kitties

    • Nancy and kitties, I miss her but I’m not so sad as I am happy that I could walk the two through their last months with as little pain and suffering as two old cats could get away with, and as much joy and love as they could take.

  • da tabbies o trout towne

    ….. and St Francis said, “Come little one, there is nothing more I can do for
    you here, don’t be afraid”……and St Francis gently picked up Emeraude and carried her into the kingdom of heaven…..when the little cat looked around, she realized everything St Francis told her on her journey was true….heaven was beautiful beyond what mere words could express…..

    …… and Emmy saw there was no pain, suffering, fear, sickness, hunger, thirst or sorrow, until she looked down and saw the family and friends she had left behind. ……and for a very brief moment, the little cat too, was filled with sorrow.

    Then St Francis bestowed Emeraude with a set of gossamer wings and said, “Use them to return to your family, when their need is the greatest, as nothing can separate your bond of love. Hold each other in your hearts and your memories, until you are reunited again at heaven’s door.”

    and when the little cat tried on her wings, she knew nothing was impossible…… when there is….love

    God’s speed to you Emeraude with love from Boomer, Dai$y, Tuna…..and Dude and Sauce too…you are and alway will be a beautiful girl xxxxxxx

    • Okay, Tabbies, I needed a little cry. Emmie definitely earned her wings. And I’m sure some boy cats are going to have their ears flapped about a bit when she is so inclined. I guess she’ll be getting together with Dude and Sauce pretty soon.

  • I’m here to pay my respects. That was a beautiful tribute. TW felt the need to seek me out and pet and kiss me after we read it. Sending comforting purrz.

    • Thanks for visiting CK, and I’m glad TW still has all parts of her face after she dared to pet and kiss you, that means a lot to us here. Thanks for the purrz.

  • I love “don’t let the fear of loss keep you from love.”
    So wise,

    thank you,

    • Cat, it’s why some people don’t adopt pets at all, because their lives are shorter than ours, but we never know what the future holds.

  • Farewell beautiful Lady Emeraude. It has been an honor to you know you even for such a brief time.

    • Vicki, it was, senior cats walk in with a big purrsonality and they can make a brief time seem like a lifetime.

  • I’ve followed Emeraude and Lakota’s stories. Thank you for providing them both with a warm safe place to be until their time ended. Here’s hoping that other people will make similar choices when there is a need to care for an elderly pet…

    • Jo, I certainly hope I can encourage others, if they can foster, that they’ll take a chance on an older cat or dog or any other animal. Thanks for following, I so enjoyed sharing their adventures.

  • Rest in peace Emeraude.

    I am sure it is her gratitude that matters most to you, and I am certain she let you know it.

  • Jocelyn

    Such a beautiful piece of writing, which stirs me to leave a comment. Bless you for giving dear Emeraude a loving home, you were fortunate in each other. May she find the loveliest window sill in the hereafter & ever sit in the sun & feel the breeze in her fur. RIP sweet girl. xx

    • Jocelyn, that’s what I’m picturing for her, a nice breezy windowsill with a good view and lots of small wildlife to watch.

  • Debbie B

    Thank you for sharing your life with Emeraude and sharing her life with us. I smile to think of Emeraude being at peace.

    • Thank you, Debbie, I do too, I’m sure she’s giving some sass to Lakota right now, and that would make her very happy.

  • RIP Emeraude. She and Lakota enriched your life as you enhanced theirs.

    • Carolyn, what they gave me in creative treasures alone is worth more than gold.

  • Rest in peace Emeraude…thank you for sharing your time together, Bernadette.

    • Thanks, Sued51, you know I was determined she not be forgotten.


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