Posted on: December 1st, 2016 by


I’ve been away from the blogosphere for awhile now. What kept me away was a perfect storm of being super busy, the horrific U.S. election and its even more horrific results — and the failing health and recent death of my beloved cat Cosette.

It’s fitting I write about Cosette today, as it’s the 10th anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction.

The two don’t seem related, but they are.

As mentioned in a previous post, I got Cosette almost 16 years ago, the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were both very sick and were even hospitalized at the same time. And one doctor told me I wouldn’t live, and one veterinarian told me Cosette wouldn’t live much longer.

To use a phrase from the movie Forrest Gump, she and I went together like “peas and carrots.” It was a perfect match. She helped me get through chemo and radiation, and I helped her recover from her nasty upper respiratory infection. She helped me get through the divorce and was there when I rebuilt my life. And when I was recovering from my DIEP a decade ago — an intensely long recovery process — she constantly stayed by my side.

Cosette was a loyal, empathetic, giving cat.

A little over a week ago, my 17-and-a-half-year-old cat was diagnosed with cancer. And I immediately decided to have her euthanized the day after Thanksgiving. Her health had been declining, but she wasn’t suffering yet. I didn’t want her to suffer from the ravages of cancer, so on Friday, I let her go. The veterinarian and her tech made Cosette’s transition peaceful, merciful, and beautiful, making me wonder why people are made to suffer merciless deaths.

Before I left my deceased furry creature, I planted a long kiss on the top of her head and silently thanked her for being there through the light and dark times. A friend was watching Arielle, who cried when I first told her the news about Cosette being sick and needing to be put to sleep.

Believe it or not, the decision to have her put to sleep was an easy one. Cancer is a fucker.

Letting her go, on the hand, has been difficult. I am drowning in grief and sorrow. I’m lost without her. I am lucky to have another cat Hemi, who’s a charming, wonderful cat. But the wounds of grief for my Cosette keep tearing open. Yet, I must remember how blessed she and I were that she lived as long as she did and that we experienced more than nine lives together.

I want to share some things about Cosette that I haven’t shared before, for she led an interesting life.

* She was a Calendar Girl. She and I were featured as one of the pictures on a calendar for PetsNPatients, an organization dedicated to providing care and help for animals of ill people. The pictures were accompanied by a short blurb of how the animal helped the human during the trying times of illness. Accomplished photographer Christine Jaksy came to my house to take the pictures, which was quite a challenge. Trying to keep the energetic Cosette still long enough for a shot was difficult, but we got a few nice shots of us together.

* Cosette had more physical endurance than many cats. Sure she slept a good portion of the day, but she was the kind of cat who needed a lot of physical exercise; otherwise, she’d bite my ankles. So I threw a ball with a bell inside, and she chased it over and over again. Even two months ago, I saw her running around the house with no signs of exhaustion.

* She would lay on her back, and I’d roll a ball to her, and she’d roll it back to me — over and over again. Even though she was looking at me upside down, she rolled the ball back to me accurately almost every time. Once I was telling a group of colleagues about my cat doing this, and they were skeptical — until I showed them a video of Cosette and me playing this game. We quickly became the talk of the social hour. “You gotta see the video of this cat,” said one colleague to another.

* She loved being around people, especially me. Whatever room I was in, she could be found there. When I had company, she was always in the center of things.

* She was a brave, gutsy cat. Whenever a repairman would come over to fix something, she wouldn’t hide, but would saunter up to the repairman, curious as to what he was doing.

* She was spoiled. When it came to food, she was a grazer and, to keep Hemi from eating all her food and to get her to eat more, I spoonfed her. That’s right! The cat ate from a spoon for much of her adult life.

I was also spoiled. After all, Cosette was our beloved pet. She’d purr me to sleep most nights and stay on my bed for most of the night.

I have no regrets at all. My life is better for having known her. It’s difficult to go on without her, but she is forever carved in my heart.


Do you have any stories about a pet you or someone you knew had? I would love to hear them.

Have you lost a pet? Feel free to tell me about your beloved pet.

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8 Responses to Cosette

  1. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Beth, we are so lucky to have such loving furbabies, and it’s so heartbreaking to lose them. Thank you for sharing Cosette’s amazing story. Hugs, friend.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you for the hugs, Kathi. I think I felt them! I know that you know all too well what it’s like to lose our beloved pets. You are right: we are very lucky to have them. Despite losing Cosette, I’ve been a lucky person to have her in my life. She gave me joy at times when I needed it most.

      Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I am so sorry. As you know, not that long ago we had to put our sweet Elsie to sleep. She had cancer too. You’re so right. Cancer is a fucker. Thank you for sharing a little more about Cosette. I think it’s sweet you spoon fed her. Your heart will hurt for a very long time. It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to our dear pets, but having them in our lives and loving them deeply is so worth it. Sending hugs to you and Ari. xx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Yes, I know how heartbreaking it was to put Elsie to sleep. You did the right thing: it’s not right to allow an animal to suffer. I know your heart is still hurting and you miss your dear dog. Having animals in our lives is worth it, as you say. Loving her was definitely worth it; even though I feel such pain and heartache now, I have joy-filled memories that I must cling to.

  3. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    I am very sorry about Cosette’s passing, Beth. And thank you for sharing her story with us. You gave her a wonderful long life and she was very lucky to have you. I am very familiar with the pain of losing a beloved pet. Cosette looks a lot like my tabby Nelly who means so much to me. Like Cosette, my Nelly was also there for me during the most difficult times of my life. This has brought us closer together. I feel lucky to have her. And you were lucky to have Cosette. I’ll be thinking of you friend. xoxo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you, Rebecca. Your Nelly sounds sweet and special. All we can do in this life is be the proper guardians of our pets — and of course they are our guardians as well. The relationship between human and animal is sacred, I think. Thank you for your kind words. I was very lucky to have Cosette.

  4. Steffanie Balog had this to say about that:

    Ahhh, Beth I am so sorry but also amazed at the timing of everything. I lost my dear cat the day I was diagnosed with b.c. on July 2nd, 2013. It was a tremendous loss and one I still tear up about when I think of my beloved Tiggerroo. Peace and blessings, Steffanie

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Steffanie,

      It must have been so difficult to be diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day your cat passed away. I’m so very sorry for your loss and unfortunately having been diagnosed with breast cancer. Hugs.

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