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You took me to adventure and to love. We two have shared great joy and great sorrow. And now I stand at the gate of the paddock watching you run in an ecstasy of freedom, knowing you will return to stand quietly, loyally, beside me.

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A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks – but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more then a loan.

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We shared. Parents. Home. Pets. Celebrations. Catastrophes. Secrets. And the threads of our experience became so interwoven that we are linked. I can never be utterly lonely, knowing you share the planet.

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Grandad has a long and earnest conversation with his grandchild. He says, you are noisy and wiggly and will be sent back if you don’t pull herself together….The baby smiles complacently. She has him exactly where she wants him.

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Friendship is not diminished by distance or time, by imprisonment or war, by suffering or silence. It is in these things that it roots most deeply.

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We have become a society where the artist is regarded as a self-indulgent superfluity, and the person who juggles stocks and shares is an essential part of the economy.

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If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.

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The baby rises to its feet, takes a step, is overcome with triumph and joy – and falls flat on its face. It is a pattern for all that is to come! But learn from the bewildered baby. Lurch to your feet again. You’ll make the sofa in the end.

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A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely.

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Sisters don’t need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks – expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs – that can undermine any tale you’re telling.

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A sister is the cure for swollen heads and ego trips. One may a star, a Chief Executive-famous and rich and beautiful. But one’s sister has the family photo album. And a long, long memory. And a tendency to wink at one on Top Occasions.

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A bag of apples, a pot of homemade jam, a scribbled note, a bunch of golden flowers, a coloured pebble, a box of seedlings, an empty scent bottle for the children. . . . Who needs diamonds and van-delivered bouquets?

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Many a cat can only be lured in by switching off all the lights and keeping very still. Until the indignant cry of a cat-locked-out comes at the door.

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Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize. Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks. Borrow. Break. Monopolize the bathroom. Are always underfoot. But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there. Defending you against all comers.

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We expect too much at Christmas. It’s got to be magical. It’s got to go right. Feasting. Fun. The perfect present. All that anticipation. Take it easy. Love’s the thing. The rest is tinsel.

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Music speaks of Platonic truth – the ideal river rather than the polluted reality, love as we dream it rather than we experience it, grief noble and uplifting rather than our distracted weeping. It is necessary to our survival and our sanity.

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Brooks too wide for our leaping, hedges far to high. Loads too heavy for our moving, burdens too cumbersome for us to bear. Distances far beyond our journeying. The horse gave us mastery.

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A cat is a regency gentleman–elegant of pose, exquisite of manner, with spotless linen and an enthusiasm for bare knuckle fights, rampaging love affairs, duels by moonlight and the singing of glees. He expects immaculate service from his domestic staff, and possesses a range of invective that would make a navy blanch.

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For every person who has ever lived there has come, at last, a spring he will never see. Glory then in the springs that are yours.

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Loss leaves us empty – but learn not to close your heart and mind in grief. Allow life to replenish you. When sorrow comes it seems impossible – but new joys wait to fill the void.