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R.I.P. Jasper Sole-Chen (2002-2018)

Our cat died on June 10th. I haven't recovered well enough to talk about it yet. Maybe in a couple more weeks. I don't know. I don't know anything right now.

But: here's something I wrote almost exactly four years ago, during my first week at Clarion West.

We always know they'll die.  Whether they're cats or dogs or fish or turtles, we know we will outlive them.  We know from the moment we meet them, from the minute we first carry them through our front doors.  We know it will hurt when they go.  But still, we welcome them into our lives.
     I've lived with four different pets who have died.  The first was a dog, which I begged my parents to get.  I don't know when or how she died.  I knew she was going to die, because Animal Control took her away after she mauled a jogger one night.  I wasn't there when they put her down.
     The second was also a dog.  She stayed home with my parents when I went off to university.  I saw her when I came home for summers and holidays.  I saw her becoming arthritic, incontinent, old.  I wasn't home when she died.  My parents didn't tell me when they put her to sleep.  I hated them for that.
     The third was a cat, an orange tabby who would meet me at the door when I came home every night, blinking slowly at me.  I wasn't there when she died.  It was daytime, and I was at work when my wife called me from the vet to tell me it was done.  I walked away from my desk and hid in the bathroom and cried for our dead cat.  She had been sick for a long time, suffering with liver disease and chemotherapy and feeding tubes and pain she couldn't describe to us.  We chose to end her life.  It was our choice.  But I wasn't there to say good-bye.  I will regret that forever.
     The fourth was also a cat, also with chronic disease: indeterminate allergies and food sensitivities.  Her condition was never life-threatening, but her health worsened as she grew older.  And one October morning, while we were driving her to yet another vet appointment, she had a heart attack and died.
     She stopped breathing in the car.  My wife did her best to administer CPR while I drove.  I wanted to go faster, wanted to blow through every red light on the way, wanted to feel like I could do something to help.
     It was less than four minutes from the time she stopped breathing to the time we arrived at the vet.  We gave her to the doctor.  I don't know how long we waited for the news.  I don't know how long we stood there in that room with her body, holding each other and weeping.  I don't know if I could have done anything different, if I could have done better, if I might have saved her that day.
     We always know they'll die.  We love them anyway, because there’s nothing else we would want to do.  We love them after they're gone, and we are happy that we knew them.  There’s nothing else we can do.
-- Seattle, WA, June, 2014


This year's Clarion West summer six-week workshop has begun, and that means the annual Write-a-thon fundraiser has also started. I haven't been able to get my shit together yet (see above), but if you would like to sponsor me, sponsor another writer, or participate yourself, here's all the information.

Three weeks from now is the 8th anniversary of Puzzled Pint. Coincidentally, I (one of the co-founders of PP) am writing all the puzzles for the event, and since there's no new Kangaroo book this year, I decided to make that the theme. Because it's fun.

You won't get a complete story out of the set, but if you've read the books, you might enjoy some of the references. And the puzzles aren't half bad either, if I do say so myself. (Don't worry, so does my puzzle editor and the playtesters who've been reviewing them internally. This ain't my first rodeo.)

Puzzled Pint now happens in over 50 cities and more than 12 countries worldwide. We never expected it to get this big, but we're grateful for everyone who's helped make it possible. Look for the location puzzle at on July 6th, then come celebrate with us the following Tuesday.
I have never been so grateful for frivolous entertainment as this past week. Also MoviePass.
Copyright © 2018 Curtis C. Chen, All rights reserved.

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