When Your Best Friend Dies...

At one time or another, we all have had best friends. Many of my fondest memories are of times I spent with a very special friend in first grade. Cassandra Sorrenson was a very special friend- my best friend. We were stuck with a teacher who had earned the nickname of *The Witch of Haigh*. Haigh was the school we attended and well I think you all can surmise why we might call her a witch. Back in 1970 where we lived at the time, there was no such thing as kindergarten. In fact, schooling has changed immensely since then. At Haigh we were just learning our ABC's and how to write our names. I happened to have stumbled across the one teacher who treated individuals born left handed as though they were being naughty curving our papers all backwards. And Cas well, can you imagine learning to write such a long first name, let alone the last. Cas was special to me. She was hard of hearing and made my life livable that year- a true best friend. We moved early in my second grade term, so I lost touch with Cas, but never ever forgot my one true best friend.

I never had another friend quite like Cas. I never bonded with another human peer quite like that friendship of so many years ago, other than my boyfriend Adam who passed away in 1993 from AIDS. There was one other true best friend in my life since then though. A friend who loved me unconditionally no matter what mood I was in: whether happy or sad, feeling good or ridden with pain and anguish. His life was short by human standards. He had awesome amber eyes that could penetrate my very soul. My best friend was Chimette, a remarkable Border Collie cross who entered my life with the baggage of abuse and vaccinosis and when he left my side almost eleven years later, he had changed my life in immeasurable ways. I finally had the kind of friend who would never leave me, who would stick by me no matter what the cost. When we parted paths, I could not imagine one second  without him let alone one minute, an hour, a day, week, or month. 

Chimette truly taught me how to live life to its fullest. At first it was not an easy journey, but then what journey ever is an easy one? Life truly can return to normal, it can go on- but its up to each of us to make the decision in our hearts that will allow healing to begin; allow life to move on and let another wonderful animal prance across our hearts and lives with their unique imprint. This does not happen overnight. Like anything else in the life of a disabled person, this too is a process. At first it is the minutest baby steps that carry us along the path towards healing; towards placing one foot in front of the other and allowing life to take on a path all its own again. Grief can be an all consuming process, or it can in fact be a true process where we accept that this was the path we were meant to walk- allow the stages to evolve and find new, beautiful meaning in life again.

Just as important as accepting this process, is finding outlets and resources to support you through it. Thanks to the invention of the world wide web, we have many more wonderful resources to gain both information and support as we walk down the path towards acceptance of our losses. I found comfort in many of the resources that follow, which perhaps will help you as well to feel that life can go on, that the dance you had begun partnered with your guide, hearing or service dog can continue as you welcome your successor into your life. Life has much to offer if you embrace it through the eyes of your next sidekick. Many wishes that your grief will move swiftly allowing the sun to shine within you tomorrow.

© 1997 - 2013
by Karyn LaGrange