Alex. He was something. More, actually, than I could have asked for. Adopted in 1996, Alex was a male tabby with magnificent green eyes and an abusive past. We bonded, deeply. No matter where I was in the house, he sought me out and came to sit beside me. He dozed beside me as I slogged through the voluminous work of graduate school. He accompanied me through various ups and downs in my life. His level gaze brought me a sense of balance. His antics made me smile.
When family members came to live with us in 2009, two cats came with the package. One of them was a black cat named Raleigh, a fearful cat whom we sometimes referred to as a “special needs kitty.” Uncharacteristically of male adult cats, when Alex and Raleigh first saw each other, they simply looked at each other without hostility. They moved closer and closer to each other, and Alex accepted Raleigh into his home as his friend.
When it was time for Raleigh to move to his new home, he had a difficult time adjusting and hid in a closet of his new home for nearly a week. The decision was made to give Raleigh to me, and Alex and Raleigh became roommates. They were always around each other and loved to wrestle. In my memory, I can still hear their little playful meows.
Raleigh passed away unexpectedly, and young, in 2012. Alex was the only cat in the house then. He mourned his friend’s loss—I could tell—because he seemed uninterested in everything.
Several months later, we adopted two kittens—sisters—Tessa and Daisy. We were a bit worried about how Alex would feel having two new kittens in his house. True to his open-hearted disposition, he wasn’t unkind to them. One day, Alex was taking a nap on a sunny spot on the screen-in porch. Tessa sidled up to him and lay down up against him. Alex swung around and looked at her, then apparently decided it was okay. He closed his eyes and slept and Tessa did the same. snuggled up against him. Alex had a generous soul.
Alex greeted me at the door everyday, like a dog, when I came home from work. In the last couple of months of his life, he’d lost almost all of his hearing and I had to find him when I returned home. When I did, he invariably would glance up at me and greet me with an adorable little chirp-meow that sounded like hello.
By November of last year, Alex’s health had declined drastically and he was barely eating and drinking. The vet and I made the decision to euthanize him. We did so on November 29, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. He was, in many ways, my best friend.
Alex was buried alongside Raleigh in the backyard under the bird feeder, which they had spent countless hours watching through the screen. Above their graves there are a circle of stones and flowers, and the birds swoop in for their food.
I believe I will see Raleigh and Alex again one day. Alex and Raleigh, you will never be forgotten, and I love you both.