I waited for what seemed like hours. I sat on the bed, then stood up to pace, sat back down…
I kept replaying the words that one of the instructors said to me about 20 minutes prior.
“Gabriella, you have Freesia, a female black lab.”
That was all I knew. Our instructor went around the room and said the name, gender and breed of the guide that each student would be receiving. She had a beautiful name for what I would soon come to know, a beautiful dog.
They told us to go to our rooms and wait for our instructor to bring our dog to us. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. I couldn’t breathe with the anxiety and excitement. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t stand. I walked around the room adjusting things that were perfectly fine. I picked up my phone, as if I could google my new dog into my room. I put down the phone because, for once in my life, I didn’t have a use for it.
“ it’s 1:45, and I got to my room at 1:10. What’s taking so long? Did she die? I came all this way and I’m not getting a guide dog. No way! I’m being ridiculous. Of course she didn’t die. Maybe she’s just sad to leave her friends. I bet their going to come with my dog last because I’m the youngest and seniority rules or something…”
There was a knock at my door and I practically walked through it to get to my Freesia.
My instructor had me sit down and she brought Freesia to me. She was so small for a lab. She was so excited. She loved me for a minute and walked back to her familiar person, my instructor. She told me that Freesia weighed 49 pounds and was 19 inches, and that her birthday was on October 27; all of which I committed to memory. After that, she left Freesia and I alone to get to know each other.
I remember the day like it was yesterday, so it’s hard to believe that it happened 6 months and 5 days ago. Most people can’t remember the exact moment they met their best friend, but I remember. I remember how she licked me, and how she put her head in my lap. I remember the fear I felt as I put her harness on for the first time. I remember the confidence I felt from her. I remember picking up her harness handle, standing by her shoulders and saying forward. I remember when we took our first steps together as a team. I will never forget the feeling of complete happiness. I had never known such freedom, such complete and total freedom. She was going to give me more independence and confidence than I had ever known. She and I would take on the world together, one day at a time.
Most people can’t remember the exact moment they realized their best friend was their best friend, but I can’t imagine how I could ever forget.
I hate meaningless anniversaries. Monthiversaries are the worst things ever. That’s why I’m posting this 5 days after the fact, because blog posts, and Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures don’t define our relationship.