I knew Carol first. She and I had been friends for about six months before she introduced me to Sue and Benji.
I met Sue when I was 16. I’m not sure how old she was. But I did know that she had a difficult past. Consequently, she was shy and a bit standoffish.
There were four of us that hung around together for 2 1/2 years… Sue and Benji and Carol and me.
Regardless of her past, Sue was, without doubt, a major gift in my life. We always went to the woods. As someone who was born with a neuromuscular disease, nature was always a challenge for me. And rugged terrain was out of the question. But she made it possible.
She intuitively understood my disability… What could work and what couldn’t. She was so immensely patient! Sue always had my back. I would never have been able to experience the woods the way I did without her.
For two summers, we all went to the woods probably two or three times per week. It was the best physical therapy I ever had! To this day, there are sights and sounds and smells that can bring those memories back in an instant when I’m lucky enough to have them appear.
We would walk for hours… Carol knew all the trails. Words were unnecessary because our senses were inundated by sunlight and crickets and gentle breezes and the damp fragrance of the leaves and pine needles that crackled and crunched beneath as we trekked.
Sue had a form of PTSD. There were things that could trigger immediate panic attacks for her. One day, while we were out exploring, she experienced a known trigger. In her past, this would have set off a full-blown panic attack. But that day… She was taking care of me… So she circumvented her own panic attack in order to keep me safe! What a magnificent and generous soul!
Carol was my friend first. But Sue was my guardian and teacher!
Sue was an Appaloosa. Benji was a quarter horse. Carol was a generous and kind woman who allowed a lonely 16-year-old girl to come to her farm and heal.
I lost touch with them when I went away to college… And I regret losing those friendships! I was pretty broken back then and I believed that I was a nuisance to Carol. She had a new marriage and kids and I felt like she didn’t need the burden that I was sure I was to people. So I quietly vanished… That’s what broken people do… They leave because they can’t envision anyone wanting them to stick around…
I’ve grown and healed. And now I realize that my leaving was not the generous act that I thought it was. It was, instead, a form of abandonment. And I will always regret that.
Hold onto your relationships! Don’t believe that voice that says they would be better off without you. People are in your life because they love you and they want to be there. Don’t let those relationships go.
Gratitude will live forever in my heart for Carol and for all of her two legged and four legged family members …
I’m glad you’re here 💜