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Such a beautiful written encapsulation of your grief alchemy, Mary. I'm so sorry for your loss and so grateful you got to experience such an abundance of love from Samson. 💙

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Thank you, Lindsay! I know you are no stranger to grief. I think often of you and Mary and how difficult your healing must still be. Love to you. xox

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Thank you. The alchemy continues to change and to change me as the months pass by. I am grateful for that. And we both know how much writing helps that process. 🙏💙

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Amother deeply beautiful and

moving essay, Mary. I am sorry for your loss, and moved by all that you gained.

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Thank you, CM. And for the pic you sent earlier today. You're such a light!

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

As I read your beautifully word-smithed sharing of such a deep and profound love I sobbed unexpected tears of remembrance and understanding even thought I had walked my 16yo canine companion “Digby “ over the Rainbow Bridge 6 years ago and have remained content and joyful since with 2 bunnies, 2 cats and 2 chickens to commune with ... but the sweet remembrance of that unconditional love and affection my dachshund had for me has flooded through like a cleansing wave of knowing the depth of your loss and the illusion of death at the same time as I can also feel my furry friend who rescued me will do so again when he reincarnates again (I told him to have a fun 12years as a very cherished labradoodle puppy a friend was breeding & then to find me again) as truly the Love we share with dogs can be so intimate and eternal

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I'm so moved by your comment, Marcelle. Your love for Digby -- and his for you -- still shines! I have no doubt he will find you again. You're right -- there is something so profound in our love for these loyal beings. Thank you for trusting us with your sweet, sad experience...❤️

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Welcome "home" to you, Mary, where you are loved and safe right here on the Art of Freedom.

Thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt, touching story about your wonderful dog, Samson. I loved the story, I loved the poem, the photos and the New Yorker cartoon was so perfect. I think you came back with a bang! Whetting our appetites for more. xox

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Oh Rocket... that is such a beautiful welcome. Of course it came from you. It's lovely to reconnect with the tribe! 😘

I loved the cartoon, too. Something about it gets me every time...

Big hugs! xox

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Back atcha!

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I burst out crying at your picture of the rainbow bridge. Magnificent words, Mary. And, mile-deep truth. How lucky you all were to find each other. 🐾

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Oh Graciel! I'm both sorry and happy for your tears... ah, life. Thank you for your sweet comment, and I do feel lucky. Finding you just adds to my pot of gold.

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh Mary, how lovely and beautiful this to read. I can feel the love and I can feel the loss. There is no avoiding deep grief when we love. A wise essay.

Yes, dogs are love. I remember Jordan Peterson talking about key moments in a day, that when we learn how to show up in them, our lives get better. He said walking into the door after being away all day is one of them, and how we greet our loved ones in that moment. Then he said - (something like) Dogs have that one down.

Ain't that the truth. Love to you, Mary. What a heartwarming story.💕

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Ain't that the TRUTH. Thank you so much, Kathleen. Your gracious comments always mean the world to me! xox

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Welcome back Mary. Much love to you and your family. ❤️

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Thank you so much, HE!

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Aug 6, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Beautiful, Mary.

I was startled to read that bridge is in North Carolina (where I grew up), but recognized a similar tradition in Japan ... not of collars, but of young lovers filling particular chain-link fences with padlocks as a symbol. Just a guess about the nature of humans and dogs, but a dog-collar likely carries more weight.

Thank you.

steve

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Thank you so much, Steve! The same padlock phenomenon is here, too -- I walked across a bridge in Pittsburgh festooned with locks -- but I'd never seen the dog collar version. So moving.

Glad to hear from you! I didn't know you grew up in NC. Whereabouts?

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Aug 7, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thank YOU Mary.

I grew up in rural Guilford country, just Northeast of Greensboro, moved to Wilmington for undergrad (marine biology), and then a couple of years to Carrboro (Chapel Hill). Just before moving to Japan, I spend a couple of years in Southern Arizona ... so my southern twang has long since gone zippidy doo da, but I can still recognize it, and slip in if the need requires.

The one linguistic advantage of growing up in the South (or maybe by temperament), is that in a conversation, I usually tend to spend more time listening than talking. As an educator, that is great ... but in competitive, commodified situations, not so great ... for example, haggling over a sales price, as a bureaucratic functionary at academic assemblies, or a throwing a sales pitch to a prospective student.

But now I've been in Japan long enough so that I can kind of guess where a Japanese is from by listening to their regional accent. That doesn't keep me from being an outsider by default, but I've been in situations where Japanese trust me to be a more objective and sympathetic listener by virtue of my being an outsider. Most can't share such personal thoughts and feelings with other Japanese because of a strong culture of self-censureship.

If I could go back in time and start a new career, I would have learned enough Japanese to be a counselor here. Lord knows so many need it. The suicide rate has always been high, but it is particularly heartbreaking to see it increasing among very young students.

Just wondering, but were you visiting North Carolina, or have you spent time living there? Although deep down, people seem to be the same everywhere ... there is something about the salty tang of the Atlantic compared to the sea-weed smell of the Pacific, the smell of good oak and long leaf pines ... some pull of the earth that says "home".

If you are not familiar with it, one of my all time favorite books is Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac". Some of my favorite chapters are "Too Early", and "65290". I could not find a free pdf file, but if you haven't read it and would like to read those short chapters, just say the word, and I'll copy-paste those two chapters in a separate reply to you.

If I ever make the discipline, that book would be a great framework for something I would like to write about parts of Japan.

Cheers Mary

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Thanks for filling me in on some of your biography. What a fascinating journey you've taken, Steve! The son of one of my friends has been obsessed with Japan forever, and now that he's graduated high school, he's heading there in September for three months. It's so funny what we're drawn to, isn't it? I've never felt that kind of pull to visit Japan, but India... now that one gets me!

My husband and I are looking in WNC for a possible cabin, something we can trade for the swelter of FL in summer. I'm grateful to be here, and love the ocean, but I do miss the pines and oaks you mention. I'm from Cleveland, originally, and lived in NYS for decades, so the north feels very much like home.

I'd love to read the chapters you mention! You can reply to the Substack email and I'll get it directly. Thanks, Steve! And re: discipline, how about starting by committing to writing your book for just 30 minutes a day??

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Aug 11, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Hard to type this through my tears, Mary. I specifically came to look into your stack today, to read something of yours as my own heart was aching with personal loss and needed a balm and as soon as I saw the title of this post I’d missed, I knew. I knew what it was going to say. Thank you for filling this space with love and grace. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.

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Oh Tonika... I'm so sorry your heart has been aching. I know that feeling of searching for something that will resonate, or soothe a troubled soul. I'm so glad this piece provided what you needed. Thank you, too, for your comment ... it helped me see that I did what I set out to do. Big hugs. And I'm glad you're back... xox

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❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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Aw golly Mary, I had no idear--I'm so sorry fer this huge loss--been so behind in my readin' (as ya know, some tribbles at home with my own pups, the human ones, specially my youngest) -- but I'm mighty sad ta learn ya lost yer beloved Samson--he sounds like such a swell feller of a pooch! We'ze dog people here'bouts--lost our beloved Shirley at 13 a little over a year ago (a saga fer another time--we do hope ta eventually re-dawg ourselfs fairly soon...) I feel dogs 'r just people with thicker overcoats, better balance, an' somewhat messy table manners. This is why losin' 'em is so hard on us human beans. I swear dogs kin understand all we say (certainly all that's important, speakin' from our hearts) an' as ya expressed so well in this great tribute to "Sam," our doggies jus' give out love an' joy an' git us laughin'. Samson sounds like a terrific buddy that blessed all've yer lives an' over many years ta boot! Amazin' story of yer communicatin' to him that he wuz safe an' home an' needed ta trust y'all--an' how quickly he understood an' settled down havin' gotten the message! Like I said, they speak "people" an' understand us sometimes better n' we know ourselfs! Sendin' good thoughts fer liftin' yer spirits in any of them "hard moments" (like when ya make chicken soup). An' next time ya do--make a toast (with the cup'a soup) in honor of Samson--if ya listen careful mebbe you'll here a mighty bark 've gratty-tude from far far up in the skies...(I 'a course have some crackpotty notions...) BUT...ya never know what's paws-sible!. Sendin' xos yer way an' a few ones "skyward" fer Samson too

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Daisy, this just completely warmed my heart. And made me laugh, too. This is classic: "dogs 'r just people with thicker overcoats, better balance, an' somewhat messy table manners." Yes!!

I so believe that he's not far from our side -- or from the dinner table. Thank you for such a sweet, sweet message about Sam and about dogs in general. Why does it not surprise me that you are "dog people"?

I hope your daughter is doing better; I've still got her in my prayers. Life ain't easy, eh? xox

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wull if it made ya laugh a bit then it hit home! we've had our felines but dogs iz different--they demand deeper feelin's but give deeper too! (I'm a tad biased but I feel like cats summon affection, but dogs demand deeper wells've love!) So yup! we'ze true dog people in every way ('cept thankfully not the kind that buy the atrocious mass-marketed "dog merch" tho!--lordy, there's a lott've it out there an' it's ALL uglier than a baboon's bottom! who comes up with that stuff anywayz?). SO you're in the club--cain't leave it once your lives have been heaved n' hoe'd havin' by havin' had a canine companion (an' a cute 'un at that!), havin' drunk from that deep well'o doggie love an' dogged-devotion!) Thar's a reason they call 'em "man's best friends!"

An' my daughter IS doin' a tad better--so appreciate yer prayers, theyz'e helpin' I'm sure! Thank ya Mary so much! xoxoxs back at 'cha!

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Thank you for this, Daisy. So kind. My experience with cats v dogs leads me to believe that cats teach us how to GIVE love (because there is no expectation of reciprocation), whereas dogs teach us how to ACCEPT love (because they just won't stop loving us). And you're right... I do feel like I've joined some kind of club. Thanks for the welcome. ❤️

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I remember Samson from your Apocaloptimism post, Mary. Thank you for introducing us to this buoyant being who blessed your life all too briefly.

Your lyrical tribute to Samson is worthy of standing alongside Mary Oliver’s dog poems and had me in tears.

“The more we love,

the more we grieve;

the more we grieve,

the more we love”

This is the lesson of life … and death. A heart full to bursting, split and sewn back together to love yet again 💓💔💞

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Oh my. Talk about lyrical... "A heart full to bursting, split and sewn back together to love yet again." Yes, yes. Thank you, Margaret Anna Alice.

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Aug 10, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

You bring so much humanity to your writing Mary, and to the way you live. It is so much what we need as we confront the inhuman forces everywhere bearing down. Poignant, human and real. An example.

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Bless you, Michael! And thank you for your unwavering support. I feel so lifted up by it. xox

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Aug 11, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

It's mutual my friend.

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Aug 10, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh - and a glorious painting!

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It really is! I wish you could see it in person -- it captures such sweetness. Makes me sigh and smile every time 😊

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Aug 11, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

... the power of art to keep alive what has been - or rather to remind us that it already lives on... long may it continue to stir your heart.

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Aug 9, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I was incredibly moved by your loving tribute to Samson, and the sharing of the tremendous LOVE- thank you for writing such a beautiful piece/Peace.

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So glad it moved you, Sara. Thank you for letting me know...🙏🏼

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Aug 7, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh my goodness, Mary. I am weeping reading this. Your poem put me over the edge. I am thoroughly a "dog person." I've never owned a cat. Samson looks at least part Lab and I'm sorry, but they're just the best. I have loved and lost three dogs in my life. But, I haven't owned one since I was divorced almost twenty years ago. I have no idea why. Now, I love on everyone else's dogs. I am so sorry for this big loss. Sending you big big hugs. 💜

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Barbara, thank you and big hugs right back! I have a neighbor here who can't fathom ever getting another dog again after losing multiple. I understand, and yet... I think there's another in our future.😍

So grateful for your presence here!

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Aug 8, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I only stopped having a dog after my divorce and move to the city. We had two dogs that stayed in the family home. One of them, Lucky, died three months after I left. I have a whole sad story about that. And then, Bessie, died not long afterwards. I was so broken I didn't feel like I could take care of anyone but myself. And having a dog in the city is hard. I just got used to it and would love on all the dogs in my apartment building. Now, I'm in the country and although my landlords initially said "no pets" I'm pretty sure they would let me have a dog. They're dog people. They have two little dogs who look like foxes with curly tails. They wander around on their own, in the woods, at night! Fearless. Meanwhile, all I can think of is having to extract all the ticks. :( Who knows? Maybe one day... 🐶 For now, Rio and Smokey at the farmer's market get treats from me every Saturday. And, yes! Of course YOU should get another one!! xo

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I love foxy-tailed dogs! Ticks, not so much 🙄. You sound like a fun dog-aunt, sharing the love all 'round. ❤️

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Aug 7, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

This touched me so deeply. I’m still sobbing. Cannot quite put words to these feelings yet but feels like more love being wrung out of still uncried grief from my no longer here doggie companions. Thankyou for this love

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Oh Kathleen! I wish I could give you a hug. I hope the tears clear your heart for some new delight, to paraphrase Rumi. How lucky were your sweet dogs to be loved so fully by you. ❤️

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Aug 7, 2023Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Sending my tears from Samson. He truly was a wonderful dog. I'm sending hugs and love to all of you!

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Love and hugs right back, dear Candi! ❤️

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