Life & death are Tetris

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Olivia,

Today’s letter is kind of a happy/sad thing. I’m sorry to still have sad stuff, but your mom says that life is like Tetris where you have to pack good and bad together, and that if you stack the blocks the right way you can break the bad memories into small pieces so that only the good blocks stand out. I hope she’s right.

As you probably noticed (how could you miss it?!!!) your big sister is very weepy tonight because her friend died. It’s kind of hard to understand, isn’t it? It’s weird when someone super young drops dead. It doesn’t seem to make sense to go to sleep and not wake up.

But it does happen. That’s part of being a “special needs” family. Some days are scary, some days fun, some are ordinary, and others are weird and make you feel like you have it easy compared to someone else. That’s just the way it is I guess.

I guess it might also make you scared to go to sleep. That’s okay though, because I will lick you awake if there are any issues. I’ve noticed that when I lick your mom’s teeth, she wakes up right away. She also screams. I’m not sure why. But anyway, I’ll lick you on your mouth if you start to get sick or something and then you can get your mom and dad to help.

Why are the needs “special”? Doesn’t everyone have needs that are important? I think they do. Maybe they just don’t say it. Your mom says that everyone would have a diagnosis if we look close enough, but we don’t look if there’s no need. Your family is DEFINITELY special. You put sprinkles on your mashed potatoes!

Sprinkles on mashed potatoes are weird! But it makes everyone laugh to see the sprinkles on top because they remember the time your dad accidentally used vanilla soy milk instead of plain and the mashed potatoes tasted sweet and yucky. That’s a happy block for your life Tetris!

I guess that’s all I want to say today. I know it’s scary and sad and can even make you angry when a friend dies, because that is a big cluster of sad blocks. But if you surround that cluster with happy blocks, then they can break up the sad blocks and soon you will be able to concentrate more on the happy.

I wuff you!



Skip adulting, become a dog!

Dear Olivia,

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
12Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

The cats told us that your brother Ethan got a bad report card-thingy. That stinks. The teacher stinks. Grades stink. School stinks. You should stay home all of the time, with me. That would be awesome. It is hard being a dog in a human-adult and cat-run world. Adults are ridiculous. Cats are ridiculous. Only dogs like me are worth listening to.

Adults work all day to buy a good home and good food. Work takes all day, which means that they are never at home to enjoy it or eat the good food. Even if they work online, they stay shut in one room all day. At the end of the day, they are too tired to eat or enjoy where they are.

On the weekend, adults do extra chores. Chores to clean the house, the house that they don’t get to enjoy because they are always working. Sounds dumb to me!

I know people think I am stupid, but I am kind of smart. I know that if you have a good home, you should enjoy it. Play ball more. Scratch your ears. Roll in the grass. Do you ever see adults doing those important-type thingys? Nope!

Over the weekend, your mom and dad dug a lot of holes. I helped. I’m great at digging! When they were done, did they roll around in the dirt? NO! They put plants where the holes had been dug. They put new dirt from bags into the holes they had just made in the old dirt. And I am the one who is stupid? Why work all that time to dig a hole that you are going to fill back up?

I think being a dog is a lot better than being an adult. Don’t grow up. Stay a human-puppy and roll in the dirt with me. Lick your paws and chase your tail. That is the key to happiness.

For a “dumb ol’ dog,” you have to admit that I’m pretty smart, am I right?

Skip school & stay home with me! Love from your favorite English Springer Spaniel,

Me, Jamie