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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother-Daughter Relationship Is Toppled by Mountain of Debt

DEAR ABBY: I am 14 years old, and my best friend just died. Her name is Beeper. She is a bird -- a finch, to be exact.

Beeper died all of a sudden. She wasn't even sick. Yesterday, she was fine. It really hurts to lose a pet without any kind of warning. Some people might think losing a bird is nothing to feel miserable about, but Abby, Beeper meant the world to me, and I can't even weep for her because I'm afraid people will laugh.

I just had to write to you to express my feelings. I hope you won't think I'm silly. I am really sad. People say, "Get another bird -- it will help you get over losing Beeper." Abby, do you think I should get another bird? -- APRIL SOLOMON

DEAR APRIL: Yes, but don't try to replace Beeper with a finch that looks like Beeper. A pet -- like a human friend -- can never be replaced.