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Oh, y'know...

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Good Morning, John. I'm not going to say I'm a bad writer: I think I'm a pretty good writer. But I will say that I generally write my best stuff when I'm not doing what people consider writing. I'm not that interested in metaphor or lyricism or beautiful language, at least not for their own sakes. I don't tend to think about how words sound beyond rhythm, I mostly strive to say the most with the least number of words and to communicate complicated things as simply as possible. 

And usually that serves me very well. But sometimes there are just things that can't be said that way, which often leaves me unable to communicate effectively the things that I feel are most important.

My dog died. She got cancer, osteosarcoma, which is very common in greyhounds, nobody knows why. It almost always metastasizes immediately to the lungs, and the only treatment is amputation, which is painful and short-term. Many dog owners choose to simply manage the pain, which is what we did. 

And now, I'm very sad. I'm sad in a weird way where I will forget why I am sad while still being sad, and I will think, "Why am I so sad?", and then I will remember, and feel guilty for having forgotten. I'm sad in a way where sometimes, I won't even have thoughts: I will only have sadness, and my mind will interject and ask, "Why am I crying?", and there will be no reason, just the crying.

I don't pretend to have known the mind of my dog. I will never understand how she thought of me or how she understood her own life. Really all I can know of my dog is the effect that she had on me. And that, I suppose, somewhat selfishly, is maybe the important thing. Lemon was a dog, and she was my dog, and she was special and valuable and amazing but also not any of those things. In every way, she was just another dog. She wasn't a treasure, but she was my treasure. We all get so caught up in  living in such a big world with oversized people making their mark, and maybe we think that, in order to be valuable, we have to be like that, even if the mark we make is made of dirt, ugly and easily wiped away, we should be making a mark as well, but look: Lemon was a dog, just another dog. Lots of people liked her, but she was just a dog. But damn it if I didn't think she was important, damn it if she hasn't left a hole in my heart. Nothing matters but to each other, and Lemon mattered to me.

People always asked me, when meeting Lemon, if she was a rescue. I was always kind of uncomfortable saying "Yes", even though I guess it's technically true, but it's not as if I got her as an act of good will; we adopted Lemon because we wanted a dog, and because greyhounds are good dogs: they're relaxed and loving and adorable. How could we consider this an act of charity? Buying, for a small fee, a cuddle companion and a reason to get out of bed on Sunday mornings and somebody to blame your farts on. We didn't rescue Lemon; we just got a dog. But I didn't really get what was in it for me. Because as much as her life got better after she was adopted, after living life not abused, but more as livestock than a pet, my life must have gotten better than hers. Because in valuing Lemon, noble and ridiculous and just another dog, I learned that feeling valued and knowing that you mattered is much more about how you think of others than about how others think of you. And that's just one of the thousand things that that dumb dog taught me, and...and, I guess, is still teaching me.

Thanks, Lemon. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.