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  • Jenna Beall

A Year without Clem

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Clementine's passing, but it many ways, it feels like it should be today.

Clem died on a hot and humid Friday. I'll never forget that afternoon—how we raced to the Animal Eye Institute, how Clementine raised her head and somehow let me know it was time, and that final McDonald's cheeseburger she managed to scarf down.

Clem was never one to turn down fast food, not even on her death bed.

I keep her ashes in my writer's nook, just above my desk, and it feels like she's still here writing alongside me. I love that.

Just as cool? Our friend Meg had an illustration created of her, a play off our favorite Clementine joke: That she was so old, Clem had witnessed every moment of history, from George Washington crossing the Delaware to the moon landing.

A few weeks after Clementine died, I prayed for some sort of sign that she was okay.

Only a day or two later, she visited me in a dream.

I was cradling her against my chest, smelling her corn chip ears, somehow appreciating this moment even in this surreal state.

"Can my puppy play with yours?" A woman was suddenly in front of me, an adorable, floppy puppy at her feet.

"Oh, she's not a puppy," I replied, hugging Clem a little tighter, a little more protectively. "She's actually really old and might get overwhelmed."

Clem was deaf and blind after all. And she definitely wasn't one to put up with puppy nips and rowdiness.

"What are you talking about?" she replied.

And when I looked down, sure enough, Clementine was a puppy once again. Her eyes were big and brown, no longer cloudy with cataracts and an ulcer. Her fur had lost its white, and she was so darn small.

I set Clementine on the ground, and she happily scampered away with the other puppy, running, running until I couldn't see her anymore.

She had made it to the other side. She was okay.

This past year without her has been hard. It surprises me how much it still hurts, how easily we cry when we think too much about those final moments, but there have been good, wonderful surprises, too. Like the fact that we still talk about her every, single day. She still makes us laugh, and she's still a part of our canon of jokes.

But the most wonderful surprise came in early June, when I received the news that Clementine (our Clementine!) is going to be the narrator of a children's book series.

In the most beautiful, wonderful way, our tenacious rescue dog with her big eyes and even bigger attitude gets to live on forever.

Plus, she'll be catalogued in the Library of Congress, which is just plain cool.

It's a surprise better than any I could have imagined.

Hopefully, Adam and I are lucky enough to have children someday. And the thought that I'll get to read them these whimsical tales, that they'll get a glimpse into what Clementine was like... Well, it makes my heart nearly burst.

I bought clementine and hibiscus-flavored hard soda tonight to cheers Clem's memory. We like to think she's watching from heaven, though her drink of choice would totally be hard liquor (straight, no ice), and she'd be smoking a cigar.

Sort of like an adorable dog-version of Tony Soprano.

Rest in peace, Clem.

You were, and will forever be, one of a kind.

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