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Learning to Love

A four-legged friend helped him out of his loneliness and isolation

Over time, sponsors and sponsees always seem to develop a special, mutual love. However, for me this love might not have happened but for a sad-eyed, four-legged 'sponsor' named Tosh. He taught me what I had to know before I could truly flourish in my newly sober life. For, though I was gratefully sober from the start, and was enthusiastically active in AA when Tosh and I first met, because of the wreckage of my past, in my heart and soul I was still very sick.

At age three, I was hospitalized for the first time for a life-threatening illness. As though it were yesterday, I can still see my mother leaving me alone after kissing me and telling me to be brave. Bravery, unfortunately, is scarce in the heart of a small child. My back pressed hard against the head of the white, iron bed, feeling cornered and with nowhere to run, I stared in terror at nurses and nuns bustling past like apparitions in starched, glaring white and scary black hoods.

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