Monday, May 17, 2010

ready for May to be over....

This has been a terrible spring. April sucked for various stupid and trivial reasons...and we thought it was over, but then came May.

My horse died.

He colicked on Derby saturday while I was in Kentucky...the vet did everything he could, but when I got home we weren't sure how things were going to go. The vet told me to wait before I made any decisions so we tried to wait it out. Then around 7 pm on Sunday, he took a turn for the worse and we called the vet to come out....but it was too late.

Death is not graceful. The body shutting down is clearly a systematic and slow process. Well...20 minutes....but that felt like forever at the time while we stood in the rain waiting for the vet to get there to ease what was inevitable.
Disney really skews your perception on what death looks like...it isn't like the movies.

However, here is the lesson that I was able to see clearly despite my tears. One, there will never ever be a time in my life where I doubt whether people are inherently good. My dad and mom came up...my mom knelt by his head and patted him until he was gone, my dad put his arm around me and held me while I sobbed and couldn't watch, my husband...he wouldn't leave my side while I said goodbye.

The people who own the barn that I kept Colors at did absolutely everything they could. They walked him, they brushed him, they called the vet out 3 times in 24 hours...They stood with me and my family and cried with us...and they let me bury him there. On their property, with his friends....and they're making him a headstone and have left their door open so that I can visit whenever I want. I have no words for how grateful I am for this. They had no NEED to be as kind as they have been...they've known me just under a year. But they did. I have no words.

Secondly, I've always questioned whether or not the body and soul are really two separate things. Like one was dependent on the other...or that when there is death it's all gone at the same time. Before Colors passed...he whinnied at the horses in the barn like he was saying goodbye, and then just before he lay down in the field, he looked at me....and I could see...that whatever used to be in his eyes that made him Aware, Alive...it was gone. That's when I knew. The whole time his body was shutting down, his eyes were vacant. He wasn't in pain (we had him pretty well drugged up against the colic pain but this was even deeper) he wasn't scared, his eyes weren't rolling in his head like when he used to get frightened. It was just a body shutting down. I think that there were moments when he was uncomfortable...breathing was hard, but he was accepting it. It worries me that he was sad...can animals feel sadness?

I think I put too much "people thought" into his brain...too much of my feelings projected onto him.I am afraid that he was upset, that he was scared...his body language didn't really show it that I could see and that is comforting, but I still worry that maybe....maybe he did.

My feelings are heartbreaking sadness, he was my friend, my secret keeper, my freedom for 19 years. Sadness because I would have so much preferred a Disney Movie death where he laid down in all his beauty and just fell asleep. Not in the rain, not with chaffed skin from rolling to try to relieve the colic pain before the drugs started working. Fear because I am afraid that a little piece of me died with him... the Ann with a horse...the Ann with a place to go when she was stressed...the Ann with something that was just hers and no one else's. And frustration for that part of my life being temporarily closed and not knowing when it will open again. And tiredness. I'm so tired of feeling these things...I want to have it all back again. And worry...if it hurts this much to lose a horse...what on earth will I do when people I love pass?

Colors was an amazing companion for 19 years. I can only hope that I provided him with a life that he enjoyed. That's every owner's hope when their pet passes away...but he saved my life when I was a sad, lonely teen. I truly pray that I was a good owner. I shouldn't even really say "own"...there's a quote that I once heard that said to ride a horse is to borrow freedom, and that's truly it. We are graced with the presence of these animals for just a moment, we can't ever fully tame the spirit or capture the freedom forever.

He was a good horse. Despite his anxiety...his fear of being away from 'the herd' and his high strung nature, he always did what I asked. He trusted me. Even on the last day, he kept walking around the field with me. He'd try to lie down (bad for horses with colic) and I'd give him a tug and say 'please please walk' and he'd keep going. It worries me that I should have let him rest.

Ultimately, I trust that there really was nothing that could have been differently. I asked the vet if I made the right choice to let him try to beat the illness...and he thought for a good five minutes before he told me that Yes, I made the right decision. Vets dont sugarcoat things...they wont try to keep an animal alive if it's suffering and the owner is prepared t omake the decision to put them down. They are practical and pragmatic and I trust them. But dear sweet Lord...it doesn't make it hurt any less.

Some of you will probably read this and think I'm a little crazy to be so upset about an animal...don't judge me too harshly. Horses are incredible creatures and I had this one for 19 years. I miss him.


The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~Arabian Proverb



A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence. ~Pam Brown

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses. ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917




God forbid I should ever go to a heaven in which there are no horses...

7 comments:

Blue said...

Ann, what a poignant post! And what an ache you're living. But time will lessen the ache...it always does. But even when the pain isn't raw, you'll still have memories forever. Moments of deja vous, when he's right there again.

His soul lives on, just in a different space than you for now. Someday you'll be reunited. I'm pretty darn positive about that.

Sorry for your pain. Happy you had such a dear animal friend for so long! What a gift. ♥

Wolf said...

oh, friend. when i read about this on facebook, my heart just sunk.

i am awful with death and having had a few of our animals die in the last two years, i realize that it never gets any easier for me. i still have feelings of sadness and regret about our puppy that got hit on the road...it brings tears to my eyes if i think about it for longer then a few seconds.

like you, i always wonder if they suffered, what they were thinking. some people have told me that i am guilty of placing human "feelings" on animals, but i don't know anything else. and regardless, i don't want anyone/thing to suffer.

i cried reading your post because i know you were/are hurting. i know that losing a companion is so hard, and what a companion colors was to you.

i do agree though, that the soul and the body are two separate things. just in my experiences with my animals and my dad.

i hope your pain lessens in time. you have so many wonderful memories, and i have no doubt that you were the best "owner" colors could have had, just as he was the best horse for you.

i believe there will be more horses in your future, when the time is right and best for you.

carrielt said...

Ann, I am so very sorry for your loss. Halfway through reading your post I had to leave my desk and hide in the bathroom while I cried. Your words are so true. I can feel your pain because that is the pain I'm feeling too right now. Two weeks ago Friday my little dog Trixie was killed by a car and the hubby and I are completely heartbroken. I want to do a post on her because I blogged about her so much the last 1 1/2 years but I can't do it yet. We loved her so very much and she loved us even more. We feel so guilty cause we never let her play outside after dark but I was outside working and had just gone inside to eat supper. Across the highway some guys were filling their corn planter and little miss social butterfly that she was went to see them. Welp she didn't make it back across the highway. To us it's like loosing a child. I know that a pet doesn't compare to a human but to us she was our little girl. Love to you my dear! I am so sorry.

Donna said...

I am SO deeply sorry for your loss, your post was beautiful. There are absolutely no judgements for the heart ache of such a close companion. When i lost my family dog that i grew up with for 15 years, it was so unbelievably sad. Sometimes i still get whisteful thinking about her because we loved her so much. The pain fades, but the memory and the love you had for her lasts forever. My heart is with you, my friend.

Amy said...

I know we have talked since Colors died......but I just now got on my blog. You have written such a beautiful blog. I truly believe Colors knew you were there to help him.....just as he was there to help you over the years. Just being there with him says a lot to animals (in my opinion). I will be thinking of you as you continue to grief process of not only the loss of your animal but a part of your life....and memories. Hugs....Amy

carrielt said...

Hello Dear. Just wanted to check to see how you're doing. Big hugs from me! :)

carrielt said...

I do have FB. Search for Carrie Towns. I couldn't remember your last name otherwise I would have searched for you!

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