I remember clearly the first time I met Finnegan my freshman year. I was on my way to Wilbur Dining Hall one day and right smack in the middle of the patio outside the dining hall was this beautiful black and white cat soaking up the sunbeams.
As someone who has grown up with dogs her whole life and has many scars from friendly-looking (key word: looking) cats, I hesitated for maybe a total of five seconds before slowly approaching this majestic feline. Kneeling to the ground at a safe distance from his claws, I tried to catch his gaze to discern if the glint in his eyes was inviting or defiant. Failing to tap into my inner-Dr. Doolittle and unable to resist my urge to pet this furry feline, my hand crept closer to his side, hypnotically heaving in the sunlight.
As my fingertips gently immersed themselves into his soft fur, my heart warmed with affection that only pets can induce. I can trust this one, I thought to myself.
Growing in confidence, I spent several minutes stroking from head to tail until I finally succumbed to the persistent, nagging voice in my head reminding me of the IHUM reading waiting for me on my desk. Getting up off the ground, I distinctly remember my knees aching from kneeling and squatting so long but I didn’t mind the ache as much as I did the depressing thought of not running into this mysterious, friendly cat again.
Little did I know that Finnegan would not only be around but would also be a source of support and comfort for me my sophomore year, when I felt defeated and lonely amid the throes of the “sophomore slump.”
Sophomore year was by far the worst year for me at Stanford. Between taking 18-22 unit quarters, trying not to drown in the HumBio core and dealing with confidence and identity issues of no longer being a varsity athlete for the first time since 6th grade, I truly felt lost and left alone to deal with my issues. Although I eventually reached out to my professors and even CAPS for help, nothing or no one made me feel more at peace than Finnegan.
Several nights during sophomore year I would be dragging my feet down Escondido Road at ungodly early morning hours and would occasionally run into Finn, prowling in the shrubbery around Arrillaga Dining Hall.
One particular night, as I walking home with two of my friends, Finnegan emerged from the shadows and approached us. Having been escorted home by him several times before that night, I was excited to introduce my feline friend and to ask him to walk us home. To my shock and slight bemusement, my friends were utterly terrified of him! To this day I still haven’t figured out if they were intimidated by his boldness when he greeted us or repulsed by the eye guck that would sometimes stain the fur near the corner of his eyes, but what I do know was that that night I laughed heartily for the first time in a long while. Amused by my friends’ terror, I kept calling to Finn to keep up as he and I chased my friends down Escondido Road.
That night was one of many, many times that Finn brought balance to my life. From the way he would grin when I would scratch the base of his tail to the dance he would perform at my feet as he interwove his body between my legs, Finn unfailingly brought me back to the present when my mind was paralyzed by anxiety of the future. Now that he has passed away, I cherish my memories of Finnegan even more now than before and selfishly wish I could have spent more time with him. But, as many of his Stanford friends know, Finn was a wandering spirit with too much love to give for just one person.
Chelsey Sveinsson ’15
Chelsey Sveinsson at [email protected].