Sunday, July 11, 2010

A farewell to Alex...

I haven't posted this as soon as I had hoped to, mostly due to the fact that I didn't know quite how to put into words what I wanted and needed to say. I still don't but I need to do this so I can move forward, both here in Suzannahstan and in general. So here goes!

On June 2nd at 6am, Alexandria Egypt, Port City on the Nile (m.k.a. Alex) suffered a blood clot that moved into her spine and rendered her back legs and tail completely non-functioning. We (Dave and I.... and I can't say enough about Dave through this situation) took her to the U of M Vet Hospital because no where else was open and they diagnosed her. I think both Dave and I knew on the ride there that things were definitely not good but didn't say anything. I knew that she would never come home again, and I sat with her in the back seat by her carrier talking to her on the ride. When we arrived, there was the obvious paperwork and one of the nurses took her back to be looked at by one of the vets. I was fine until about 2 minutes after Dave finished the paperwork.

Alex had been mine since June 1992 when at 8 weeks old I found her in an ad posted in the newsletter for the company I had worked at, and we had been through almost everything, good and bad, together till the day she died. She was definitely a cat that believed that I was around to be there just for her and demanded my attention, loudly, on most occasions when she felt it was needed. Alex announced bedtimes, kept me company during late nights when i couldn't sleep and read, reminded both Dave and I that meals should always be on time and mostly was content to treat Emma (before she died in Oct. 09) and Merlin like the cats they were, not like the cat she was. As I write this it doesn't sound like Alex was as magnificent as she really was, but I can't seem to find the right words to describe her better. She was a fantastic cat.... regal, aloof when she wanted to be, talkative (to the point of absolute domination of the house) and loving in her own way, which suited me perfectly. To face losing her was something that I had thought about over the course of her life, and like most pet owners I think, dreaded what it would be like to not have her in my life.

As we sat in the waiting room and other people came in and left with their pets, I couldn't keep myself from crying. Dave came and hugged me and tried to keep me in a positive place, because we really didn't know what was going on. The doctor came out and took us to a room and confirmed that she had suffered a blood clot. She told us that there were things that they could try to do, but it would be a long road and Alex would be in pain and wouldn't necessarily gain the use of her legs, most cats don't. She told us the other option was to put Alex to sleep. She left us alone to discuss it, but the minute she said that any treatment would leave Alex in pain (something they had already given her a painkiller for), I knew what had to be done and I have no doubt that Dave did too. We were both very rational at that point and I don't remember crying when we made the decision. In fact we laughed a bit about something that I can't even recall, but i'm sure it had something to do with Alex, who we could hear in a room nearby, talking in her "I'm not sure what YOU think you're doing" voice.

They brought her to us in what they have set up as a quiet room that looks out on the grounds of the St. Paul campus, and I held her as both Dave and I talked to her for awhile. She had never been a lap kitty and definitely was never big on being held, and she tried to get out of my arms, even though she couldn't use her legs, which we knew was frustrating and scary for her. We laughed with each other remembering different "Alex moments" and Dave scratched her head and ears. We probably spent around 20 minutes just talking to her and trying to make things not so scary. She calmed down a bit (in Alex standards that was amazing in and of itself!) and just let us hold and pet her. When the doctor finally came in and administered the injections that would stop her heart, I knew the moment it happened. It was raining outside and as I felt her heart beat the last time, it seemed like the rain picked up and somehow even God felt her leave us. We held her and cried for a little bit, but knew that she wasn't with us anymore and soon after gave her body to the doctor for cremation. We have used cremation with both cats that Dave and I had lost before and their ashes are in wooden urns that have room for pictures. I know that it's been the easiest way for us to deal with their losses and feel like they aren't so far away. Although, I still haven't found the best picture for Alex's urn.... I'm looking. But she is back home, in a sense.

So, why share all this? I don't know.... well, it is my blog... and I guess I knew that this would somehow be part of my goodbye to her. Even though she will live in my heart forever. Luckily I had taken some video of her one night when I was between books and it's here if you'd like to see the queen "A" in her "natural environment".