Friend is defined as: one attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion; to have a friendship or friendly relationship with
Friendship is defined as: a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an acquaintanceship.
Companionship is defined as: the relationship of friends or companions; fellowship
Why do these definitions matter? Well, I just learned that today is National Best Friend Day. When I heard this I started to reflect upon the best friends in my life. At my age I no longer refer to my friends as “best friends”. I have soul sisters, great friends, soul brothers, and close friends, but each of those descriptions are more like categories or labels that don’t really come close to describing how dear each of them are to me. Then I got to thinking about how there have been times in my life that I did have friends that were better than others, and some of these friends were animals.
I learned many years ago that soul mates come in all shapes and sizes. One of my soul mates and best friend in life was a canine companion. Her name was File’ (pronounced Feelay). She belonged to another family when I first met her, but I adored her even then. I had my own dog at the time, but File’ had a special place in my heart. I was her caretaker when her humans had to leave town. She lived with other dogs that I equally loved, but for some reason, she and I really bonded.
Fast forward to 2005, and hurricane Katrina came to town. I was forced to evacuate with my animal menagerie and File’s family asked me to take File’ with me, because she was badly injured from a recent (and ongoing) rivalry with another dog in the household. I agreed of course, and we weathered the storm elsewhere. I ended up adopting File`several months later. It wasn’t expected, but it seemed like it was meant to be.
Fast forward to many months later and things began to fall apart in my life. I had a huge, nasty break up that seemed to never end. Then I had to move four times in six months. Who was by my side through all of the drama and emotional rollercoaster? – File’. She was always there, never complaining, never judging, and ceaselessly loving me and helping me to weather my emotional storms. She never left my side. File`s devotion to me was unlike any that I had ever known. She was a guardian and a protector. At the same time, she was a gentle spirit, so full of love and life. She knew me better than I knew myself. She was my soul mate. The bond we shared is what creates worlds. It was magical. It was divine. It was a gift from above. We spent every moment that we could together and we went everywhere together, adventuring and exploring. Then one day her body gave out suddenly and she had to leave this world.
Her ears were often the first thing to catch my tears. ~Elizabeth Browning
As I said before, soul mates come in many shapes and sizes. My husband and I refer to each other as soul mates and the best of friends. What we share is unlike anything I had every known or imagined. We are truly blessed. Now that my husband is deployed, I find myself somewhat isolated from friends and family. All of my closest friends and family live states or countries away. I am a fiercely independent woman, so being without my husband for the better part of a year, is not as horrible as it sounds to most. However, at times, I miss my friends and my husband terribly. When I am feeling down and blue, missing the favorite people in my life, I still have a devoted friend by my side to lift my mood.
This friend’s name is Hocus Pocus and she walks on all fours. Yeah, once again, life gave me another furry friend to keep me laughing, smiling, and on my toes when I am riding the solo train. Although I cannot compare canine companionship to that of the companionship and friendship that my husband and I share, I do see some similarities; unconditional love, acceptance, compassion, joy, humor, trust, and empathy.
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.
Many other species of animals share a very large space in my heart. These friendships range from giant tortoises, to parrot of all sizes, and of course, the feline persuasion as well. But there is something truly special about sharing your days and nights with a companion animal that sees you literally at your worst, and yet they stand by your side every moment, every day, without judgment. To be able to share adventures together, to explore life together, and to challenge you in so many ways is such a blessing! To be able to truly be yourself in the presence of an animal and they still love you unconditionally is a remarkable gift. I believe this is one of the lessons that they are here to teach us; how to love each other unconditionally – when we are at our worst, without judging.
Today I thank two of my best friends for showing me how to love others wholly, how to love and accept myself completely, and how to help others to do the same. Thank you, File’, for being my best friend and sharing your soul with mine. Thank you, Hocus Pocus for coming into our lives and for keeping me busy while your daddy is away keeping the world a safer place.
I am forever grateful to you both.
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras