Lydia, 1997-2010


Ingrid and I have some sad news. Our cat, Lydia, died of cancer this morning at the age of 13. She had been getting chemotherapy for the last few weeks, and for a while was doing somewhat better; but on Wednesday night she stopped eating, and her appetite never returned. We took her in to the vet on Friday for tests, and they found that her liver was failing. They changed her medications, but she continued to decline: she was clearly suffering and was not going to get better, and we decided last night to have her euthanized. She died peacefully at home this morning, with us petting her, on the mat in front of the heater.

Ingrid and I are obviously terribly sad about this. As those of you who met her know, Lydia was an incredibly sweet and special cat, and this house is not going to seem at all the same without her. And because I think about religion so much these days, I have, of course, had moments of wondering if a belief in God or an afterlife would have been comforting or helpful at this time. But I honestly have to say, with a strong degree of certainty, that the answer is “No.” I don’t think either Ingrid or I would be comforted by the idea that we might see Lydia again someday in an afterlife. I think we’d be confused and angry about why God had given her this terrible disease in the first place. (So to any religious believers who might be reading this: Please do not send us your prayers, or tell us that Lydia’s looking down on us, or anything like that. Thanks.)

We are, instead, comforted to know that we gave her the best, happiest, most comfortable life we could have given her. We are also comforted to know that we gave Lydia the best care we could during her illness, trying our best to balance our desire to give her some good quality of life with our desire for her to not suffer. And we are comforted to know that we were able to give her a good death, safe and warm and loved and without fear. Finally, we are comforted to know that she was loved, not only by us, but by so many of our friends and family — including all her fans on the Internet. This life is all we have… and all we can do, for our pets and other people, for ourselves and one another, for strangers and our loved ones, is to make the time that we have, however much time it is, as happy and joyful and meaningful as we possibly can. If you want to know what you can do for us… go be nice to the people and animals you love, and go do something to make the world a better place. (And please be patient with me in the coming days and weeks, as I may not be blogging as often as I normally do, and my mood and temper may not be at their best.) Thanks to all of you for your support during this time.

Lydia and Violet 01

Lydia 02

Lydia 03

Lydia 04

Lydia and Violet 05

Lydia 06

Lydia 07

Lydia 08

Lydia 09

Lydia 10

Lydia 11

Lydia 12

Lydia 13

Lydia 14

Lydia 15

Lydia 18

Lydia and Violet 19

Lydia 20

Comments

  1. Alice says

    I’m so sorry. What a wonderful and sweet cat she was – she looks like she truly *knew* how loved she was, and that she was able to fully experience it often during her time with you. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  2. Ola says

    I’m so sorry for your loss! She had a great life with you.
    Maybe it will sound like a terrible thing to say, Greta, and I’m sorry, but I know from my and others’ experience of losing beloved pets that this is a good advice: take a kitten. Not immediately, but soon. Because… life goes on, and love must go on, too.

  3. RebekahD says

    What a lucky kitty Lydia was to have had you and Ingrid loving her so much. My thoughts are with you both.

  4. John says

    Death is not the end, Death is just moving from one plane of existence to another where you will meet all your beloved ones again. We do have solid evidence for an afterlife: We have experimental data. For example, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield electrically stimulated the brains of epilepsy patients and found he could cause them to move their arms or legs, turn their heads or eyes, talk, or swallow. Invariably the patient would respond by saying, “I didn’t do that. You did.” According to Penfield, “the patient thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.”
    A lot of subsequent research has validated this. When Roger Sperry and his team studied the differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, they discovered the mind has causal power independent of the brain’s activities. This led Sperry to conclude materialism was false. We also have rigourous, peer reviewed evidence from Since psychic phenomena such as mediumship, Out of Body Experiences, Near Death Experiences, Remote Viewing, Materialisations, Proxy Sittings, Poltergeists, Electronic Voice Phenomena, Instrumental Transcommunication have been and are producing positive results, then it inevitably follows that the same evidence can be used for supporting the separation of the MIND and the BRAIN.
    So don’t worry Greta, you will see Lydia again. Life is forever.
    Love and Light always,
    John

  5. says

    Hi Greta,
    I hope you and Ingrid are holding up okay.
    You say you’ve wondered if a belief in God or religion would be helpful at this time, and this immediately made me think of a song by George Hrab which he wrote after he lost his dog, and this is something it focuses on. It’s almost guaranteed to make you blub, but I think you’ll appreciate knowing it.
    The song is called “Small Comfort” and the lyrics are:
    I don’t believe in heaven
    and I know that there’s no hell.
    I don’t think you’ve gone anywhere
    and I guess that’s just as well.
    ’cause I want to remember
    the last look in your eye
    It was the best and worst thing
    to get to say goodbye
    to you.
    They say we’re not supposed to comprehend
    but I wanna know more.
    Being there with you at the end
    was a pain I had hoped for.
    Did you know where you were going?
    did you like the time you’d spent?
    I wished that you’d stayed longer
    but that’s not how it went.
    Now I know there’s no forever
    but of all the hearts I’ve met
    I think the place we ended up
    was as close as one could get.
    Did you?
    They say we’re not supposed to understand
    that doesn’t help me.
    Watching you leave by my own hand
    were the cards that were dealt me.
    Some would blame the dealer
    some would blame the deal
    Some would make up stories
    that never could be real.
    I hope when you left
    you were glad to be back home
    I think that you knew you would never be alone.
    I’ve no need for heaven
    or some eternal bluff
    I prefer what’s real
    and what we had here was enough.
    I’m glad I get to miss you
    but that you can never miss me.
    Thinking you’ll wake up and see us
    is your eternity.
    Small comfort.
    I miss you.
    I miss you.
    I lo… [song deliberately cuts mid-word]

  6. says

    John: Your comment is inappropriate to the point of being grotesque. Especially since you were specifically asked not to make comments like that.
    There are times and places to argue with people about their views on the afterlife. A time when someone is in deep, immediate grief is not one of them. I make many arguments against the existence of an afterlife. I do not do so in response to a person saying that someone they love has just died. If you wouldn’t tell a Jewish person who’s grieving that you’re sure their loved one is in the arms of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, you ought not to tell an atheist and materialist that you’re sure they’ll see their loved ones again in the afterlife. It is not comforting. It is twisting the knife in the wound. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are hereby banned from this blog.
    Everyone else: Thank you so much for your extremely kind and heartfelt words of sympathy. I love this community, and your support means more to both me and Ingrid than either of us can say.

  7. says

    My deepest condolences for your and Ingrid’s loss. We love our Kittehs very much, and we’ll miss them keenly when they are gone. When we euthanized our previous cat, I was very proud that we didn’t feed the “we’ll see her in heaven” lie to our children, then 2 and 5 years old.

  8. Evil Paul says

    It sounds like Lyddia was a wonderful cat loved by wonderful people. You did right by her both in life and in death. You have my deepest sympathies.

  9. Spanky says

    I am so sorry for your loss, I feel grief for the three of you remaining. It is great that you were in a position to farewell her in the best way you could. My thoughts are with you.

  10. says

    My deepest sympathies for your loss of Lydia, Greta. I regret that I never met her; she sounds like such a fabulous creature, and even for us atheists, the holiday season is an even crappier time for this to happen.
    Much love and sympathy.

  11. says

    I’m so sorry for you loss. She seems to have been a wonderful cat.
    Kristin and I just lost our cat in November after having him around for 14,5 years, and we really miss him. Our best comfort is knowing that he had a good life with us and that we were strong enough to make the decision that was best for him when the time came, and I’m glad you seemed to have the same strenght.

  12. Suzy Wernet says

    Warm, kind hugs to you all from me. We are all equal creatures in my eyes and heart. I so enjoyed your photos and now feel like I knew Lydia and her family and am better for it. Thanks so much for sharing her with us.Hugs again. ♥

  13. vel says

    My condolences. and this “best, happiest, most comfortable life” is the best we can do for any of our fellow creatures.

  14. jane says

    sympathies to all. I have six kitties now and still remember fondly so many others who have shared my life.
    Unfortunately it’s not suprising that one more selfish theistic ass who simply *must* lie to keep his faith alive. Well, it does keep me from weeping by the anger it stirs up.

  15. says

    Greta, I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I had to put my ailing cat down many years ago, but I was never sure that I made the right decision.
    “Remind thyself that [s]he whom thou lovest is mortal—that what thou lovest is not thine own; it is given thee for the present, not irrevocably nor for ever, but even as a fig or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year….” –THE GOLDEN SAYINGS OF EPICTETUS

  16. Nora says

    Lydia seems to have been a very special kitty and she was as lucky to have you as you were to have her. I hope it isn’t too long before your feelings catch up to what you already know intellectually: the sum of all the small joys she brought you far outweighs the big sadness at the end. I feel for your loss.

  17. Stellar Ash says

    Our family’s deepest sympathy and condolences. We too lost a sweet calico to cancer a couple of years ago.
    May you remember her fondly.

  18. says

    I’m so sorry. The loss of any sentient companion is tragic and we’ve all been there.
    As you know Lydia will have no worries hereafter and you and Ingrid have been her best friends while it counted.

  19. Nurse Ingrid says

    Thanks everyone (well, almost everyone) for your kind words and good thoughts. It’s amazing how much it helps at times like these. Greta and I appreciate it very much.

  20. says

    Thank you so much for sharing so much of her life with us and for sharing the news of her death with us as well.
    It is odd to grieve over a cat I never knew, but there’s a community aspect to the whole thing.
    Virtual hugs to you and Ingrid.

  21. says

    I’m so sorry, Greta. As someone who’s lost a beloved pet more than once, I feel for what you’re going through. If it eases the pain in any way, be reminded that Lydia enjoyed all the love and good care a cat can possibly experience in her life with you and Ingrid, and you did the right thing in sparing her from further suffering. We all have to go through this pain sometime, but compared to all the happiness our companions give us, it’s a small price to pay.

  22. Lynn Wilhelm says

    So sorry for your loss.
    I still miss my pets. My last one died about 4 years ago. Mine were all the very best companions and I’m sure Lydia was the same for you.
    We are truly lucky that we can choose to help our friends die when they can still feel our love and we can minimize their suffering. You made the right decision.

  23. Judy says

    My deepest sympathy to you and Ingrid and everyone else missing Lydia. She was obviously very special. You and she were lucky to have each other.
    We went through a similar experience when our cat was euthanized on November 9 at age 18. We adopted her when she was 3. The pain of the loss recedes but never goes away. The chronic kidney disease she had had for years finally won. We are glad we could be with her at the end and were able to give her a quick, painless end to her suffering, just as you did with Lydia.
    To be honest, I wish our beloved pets were waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge, but wishful thinking doesn’t change reality. They live in the effects they’ve had on our lives and the good they brought into the world.

  24. Chip Ritter says

    Many condolences from me. Hayley, and Charlie– to whom Lydia extended quite a courtesy by not mauling as he took a few loving but not entirely appropriate swipes at her when he was last there. I remember an afternoon or evening where Lydia ended up on my lap for a fairly long time, probably only happened the once, but it was a profound session of purring and petting, and it felt exactly nice and somehow special. She was a unique animal, a great presence, and I can only imagine how you feel, having been around for lots more of that. Much love.

  25. Paul says

    Death is only a temporary tragedy, Death is not the end. Death is simply the shedding of the physical body. There is no such thing as Death, Life and Love is all there is. Consciousness is eternal and one with the Loving force that some people call God. Consciousness is not a product of the brain. Consciousness is Eternal. Death is just the end of one journey, you will continue growing and loving in the Spirit worlds. I am sure you will see your cat Lydia again. She came into your life for a purpose. All of you had an agreement before coming into this world.
    Don’t worry. Lydia will be having a party in Heaven now.

  26. Paul says

    We need not be fearful of Death and Dying. We can never really loose loved ones because love is all there is. Our Souls are eternal and one with God. Life on Earth is a short journey where we can learn and grow together. At death we will cross over and meet all our loved ones again.
    Life is forever, death is just a horizon.

  27. says

    Paul: Did you not read the part of this post, where I specifically said, quote, “So to any religious believers who might be reading this: Please do not send us your prayers, or tell us that Lydia’s looking down on us, or anything like that. Thanks.”?
    Failing that: Did you not read my response to the previous commenter who used this expression of intense grief and sorrow as an opportunity to proselytize for his religious beliefs?
    Apparently not. So I’ll repeat what I said to him, as it applies equally well to you. I said, quote:
    Your comment is inappropriate to the point of being grotesque. Especially since you were specifically asked not to make comments like that.
    There are times and places to argue with people about their views on the afterlife. A time when someone is in deep, immediate grief is not one of them. I make many arguments against the existence of an afterlife. I do not do so in response to a person saying that someone they love has just died. If you wouldn’t tell a Jewish person who’s grieving that you’re sure their loved one is in the arms of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, you ought not to tell an atheist and materialist that you’re sure they’ll see their loved ones again in the afterlife. It is not comforting. It is twisting the knife in the wound. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are hereby banned from this blog.
    And again, to everyone else here who has responded with actual empathy and support: Thank you. Your kindness is doing a great deal to make the grief more bearable. This has been and continues to be a grievously difficult time, but being part of this community is deeply comforting, and means more to both me and Ingrid than we can say.

  28. says

    For goodness sake… what is wrong with some people?!?

    Apparently, reading for comprehension is not being effectively taught in our school system. Either that, or we have a serious epidemic of Self-Involved Douchebagitis (Pompous Windbag Strain).

  29. Maria says

    As with many commenters over at Alternet, I think they actually don’t read what people have written. They see a chance to jump in with their preaching and don’t care the least about what the people they direct it to might think about it, or if they might offend or hurt someone.
    Getting the message out is more important than showing a minimum of respect by making sure first that it is proper or would be welcomed, it seems.
    It’s no better than spam. Spammers and spambots don’t read either, they just look for “suitable” keywords, and then they throw their message in whereever they spot them.
    I hope you two will not have to deal with this again now! I know how hard it is. I had to put my 18 year old cat down last year, and it was very hard. I still can’t look at pictures of her withot tearing up. My other cat is almost 20 now and I know I will soon have to face this again. Idiotic fantasies like the ones of John and Paul is no help whatsoever!

  30. Ginger says

    You have my deepest condolences. I have lost 2 bunnehs and 2 kittehs during my adult life. I empathize with you most sincerely.
    Ginger K

  31. fastthumbs says

    My sympathies goes out to Ingrid and you.
    Aside: I suspect we have a religious concern troll and that John = Paul. I wouldn’t be surprised if another morph attempts to post similar tripe.

  32. Rod says

    I am so sorry to hear about Lydia. I just found your blog a couple of days ago,and am enjoying it very much. Discovering you are a cat lover is one more plus. I am nearly 58, and have had 3 to 5 cats my entire adult life, all “rescued”, as well as having a number of “temporaries” until more permanent homes were found. They all come to the end of their lives, and unfortunately, it always hurts. My thoughts are very much with you.

  33. hexi says

    I suspect “Paul” is “John” again. Sad when Christians show themselves to be exactly what they are, selfish and ignorant.
    My sympathies about Lydia’s passing. I wish you a bottle of good wine and fond reminiscences.

  34. Doug from Dougland says

    My heart breaks for the both of you. Lydia was surely a very fortunate cat indeed to have had owners like you and Ingrid. Best wishes

  35. Kim says

    Twisting the knife, indeed. I would urge anyone else tempted to flout the request of the grieving and to obstinately exploit Greta and Ingrid’s loss as an opportunity to propagate oppositional beliefs about death to consider how *they* would feel if, after losing a loved one, someone with oppositional beliefs exploited *their* time of grief in a similar fashion. My mind boggles to think of how hurt and indignant they would be. If their desire is to be positive ambassadors to their “spiritual persuasion” (whatever it may be), they would be better served to show an ounce of humanity and empathic sensibility at such a tender time.
    I’m sorry if that was an inappropriate or presumptuous outburst, but I was just aghast at the insensitivity and obtuseness of those comments.

  36. says

    I’m sorry for your loss and about the jerks. It’s wonderful, indeed that you were able to give Lydia a good life and a good death.

  37. Nurse Ingrid says

    @ Kim:
    You say it, sister. Many thanks for your eloquence.
    And to everyone else who has offered their kind words and support, many thanks again. Greta and I have been very touched by all your comments.

  38. John the Drunkard says

    Damn the trolls.
    All my condolence for Lydia. Our Olive is 18 going on 19. Still a feisty moggy barring a bad leg from a freakish calcification.
    My future ex-partner has converted to catholicism. She has accepted the homophobia, the authoritarianism, the sleazy miracle stories etc. BUT…she reserves the right to believe that–you guessed it–she will see Olive in the sweet bye-and-bye.
    It is probably too soon to say so, but there are other cats in the world who need your love. Your relationship with them is not a substitute for Lydia. This other cat(s) has a right to its own connection to you based on its own, and your own, natures.
    So Sorry.

  39. John says

    For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. ~William Penn
    Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. ~Albert Einstein

  40. John says

    “God is not someone or something separate but is the suchness in each moment, the underlying reality.”
    — Stephen Levine
    “I have seen many die, surrounded by loved ones, and their last words were ‘I love you.’ There were some who could no longer speak yet with their eyes and soft smile left behind that same healing message. I have been in rooms where those who were dying made it feel like sacred ground. (26)”
    — Stephen Levine (A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last)
    healing comes not from being loving but from being itself. It is not a case of being clear but of clear being. This healing is not about anything else but being itself. Nothing separate, no edges, nothing to limit healing. Entering, in moments, the realm of pure being, the gateless gate swings open– beyond life and death, our original face shines back at us.”
    — Stephen Levine (Healing Into Life and Death)

  41. Nora says

    John: Look asshole, all you need to know is that she has said that this sort of “consolation” is upsetting to her, in no uncertain terms. Why the fuck do you feel like it’s more important to keep spouting your opinion on the topic in this particular venue than to respect the needs and feelings of someone who is dealing with a tremendous personal tragedy?

  42. says

    Why does everyone hate me so much, all I did was to console Greta for her loss

    John: I made it very clear that I did not want this sort of “consolation.” I made it very clear that I do not find it consoling — I find it intensely upsetting. I have already explained why; you can read that explanation again here.
    It is clear, however, that you are more interested in making your arguments for the existence of an afterlife than you are in actually offering empathy and support to a person in pain. And you are clearly more concerned about your own hurt feelings over other people being mad at you than you are about the grief of a human being who has lost someone they dearly loved. You can mouth all the mushy platitudes you want: it cannot disguise your utter lack of the simplest human compassion. If you think your comments are making any non-believer reconsider their non-belief, you are sadly mistaken. It is having the exact opposite effect. It is making people recoil in horror.
    I have banned you from commenting on this blog. You are apparently attempting to get around that ban by commenting from a different IP address. I am going to continue banning every IP address you comment from. I am tempted to delete or disemvowel your comments, but for the moment I’m going to leave them, as an example of how revoltingly self-centered and cruel religious believers can be when they are pretending to offer comfort.

  43. says

    They see a chance to jump in with their preaching and don’t care the least about what the people they direct it to might think about it, or if they might offend or hurt someone.
    Getting the message out is more important than showing a minimum of respect by making sure first that it is proper or would be welcomed, it seems.

    Maria: Normally, I don’t care about that. I know that the things I write often offend and hurt people, and are considered by many to not be proper or welcome or respectful. So I defend people’s right to say things that I find offensive, hurtful, unwelcome, and so on. That’s the marketplace of ideas, after all. If I’m posting an article criticizing people’s cherished religious beliefs, knowing that people are going to find it upsetting, I can’t get too annoyed when people respond without being concerned about whether it’s going to upset me.
    But sheesh. To do it in a freaking obituary? If you had told me when I started blogging that people would be using an obituary as an opportunity to grind their religious axe, at the cost of rubbing salt in the wounds of someone who had lost someone they love that very day, I would have said you were high. I guess nobody ever went broke underestimating the self-centered callousness of the human race. Sheesh.

  44. Maria says

    Maria: Normally, I don’t care about that. I know that the things I write often offend and hurt people, and are considered by many to not be proper or welcome or respectful. So I defend people’s right to say things that I find offensive, hurtful, unwelcome, and so on. That’s the marketplace of ideas, after all.
    I see what you mean, and yes, I can’t say that I aren’t doing just that too. So yes, you are right. I guess what annoyed me the most was the “spam quality” of it, as in seeing the words “someone died” and then jumping right in, seeing it as a chance to preach. At least when I prepare to put in an opinion, I have read what I’m about to argue against. (And if they did read it’s even more callous.)
    So I’m willing to retract that bit, or I would really be hypocritical (seeing as sharp-tongued as I can be at times). But, yes, there is a time and place to bring up certain things, that I stand behind.

  45. John says

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  46. John says

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  47. John says

    Nrmll w d nt lk t thnk bt dth. W wld rthr thnk bt lf. Wh rflct n dth? Whn y strt prprng fr dth y sn rlz tht y mst lk nt yr lf…nw…nd cm t fc th trth f yr slf. Dth s lk mrrr n whch th tr mnng f lf s rflctd Sgyl Rnpch ncnt gyptns blvd tht pn dth th wld b skd tw qstns nd thr nswrs wld dtrmn whthr th cld cntn thr jrn n th ftrlf. Th frst qstn ws, “Dd y brng j?” Th scnd ws, “Dd y fnd j?” L Bscgl Rmmbr thr s n Dth, Lf s trnl.

  48. says

    Despite having been banned from this blog, John is continuing to attempt to comment from multiple IP addresses. It has been repeatedly explained to him why he has been banned, but he is ignoring these explanations. His comments have therefore been disemvoweled, as will any future comments from him.
    And to anyone else reading this: Please do not start arguments about religious beliefs on an obituary thread. It is grotesquely cruel. Thank you.

  49. says

    This is the first time I’ve ever left a response on this blog, though I have stopped by from time to time to enjoy the excellent writing. However, I had to break my silence in order to offer deepest sympathies on your loss. I know it may seem silly, as I am a total stranger to you, and so many others have already offeredup their sympathies, but as an atheist and an owner of some well-loved kitties, I was moved by the thought of how you must be feeling.
    I don’t know if its true, because all I have to go off of is the anecdotal evidence of my own experiences and those of other atheists I have personally known, but it has always seemed to me that grief for atheists is generally much deeper and more profound. We have to face up to the loss of loved-ones (and cherished pets are indeed loved-ones) for what it is: not a temporary separation, not “see you later”, but instead “you’ve gone forever, what am I to do?” Such loss is heart-rending, and though the grief may be blunted over time, it will always be there. I’m sorry if I’m being a bit morose or depressing, but I honestly feel that it is the bone-shattering sense of loss that lets us understand what a life is worth. A life not profoundly missed is a life cheapened. Anyway, I’m rambling now, but I’ll part by saying to remember that our grief is the measure of our love for the lost, and in that way, it is bitterly precious.

  50. David Harmon says

    My condolences — and fie to “John” and “Paul”, who can’t be bothered to actually care about the people they’re preaching to.
    As with humans, Lydia’s “afterlife” is within you and the others who loved her in life. Though she has died, your memories of her haven’t — and neither has the love you “grew for her”, and which you clearly retain.

  51. Jan says

    Sympathies, it hurts like heck losing a pet!
    I’m a dog person and lost our boxer in August. In his memory we fostered a poor, stressed kennel rescue and got him happy and settled and into a permanent home where he is now loved!
    I wondered if you could foster an injured kitty on the journey from rescue to a new home. It helped us and we felt like we paid forward!

  52. C. says

    I’m sorry she’s gone. Are there any animal hospitals or charities that have helped you and/or Lydia, or that you’d appreciate donations for?
    (and my apologies if this is a double-post, I’m not sure if it went through the first time)

  53. Coran says

    My first cat was a tortoiseshell who died of cancer. It hurts to lose anyone we love, and the more we love them, the more it hurts. What a lucky kitteh she was to have you and Ingrid for a family. My condolences Greta.

  54. says

    I am sorry for your loss. I’ve just discovered your blog and have been enjoying it. I was saddened to read this. I have lost pets before, and it is not easy to lose a little furry creature so close to our hearts. She looked like a lovely, adorable, loving cat who made people happy.

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