My horse died yesterday, sometime in the early black hours when morning is still night. Or maybe just as dawn was breaking.
I should say our horse not my horse. The litany of Albert’s belonging goes like this:
He belonged to my family – my daughter, my husband, me. During our first twelve years of becoming one, he belonged to us. He belonged to every child he ever taught and every kid that ever lifted up a kitten or a puppy to his nose. Every bird that ventured into his space. And, to every man, woman, and child who brushed his mane, mucked his stall, or put hot compresses on his eye. Albert belonged to his friends: Winter, Woody, Dart, Latte, Mia, Lily, Norman, Bo. He belonged to every grieving woman he attended, and there were many who brought their suffering hearts to his stall after the loss of a mother, a grandmother, a child, a marriage, or a horse-companion of their own. Whether they know it or not, Albert also belonged to every person who ever read Chancey.
Our horse passed peacefully.
I imagine he finally lay down because he was exhausted. In the last weeks of his life, he could not sleep on his feet because his feet wouldn’t hold his weight. He shifted continuously, resting one foot then another. We built him a bench, and he used it.
The bench could not reverse the damage to his legs from torn tendons or to his feet from laminitis. He lost weight. Neither bench nor stall rest nor fresh, cut forage could stop his body from breaking down. And so, I imagine he finally fell asleep and fell down.
And, I imagine, too, there are angels who rejoice that God has appointed them to accompany equines to new pasture or sea or mountains. That’s the kind of angel I want to be. If people get to ever be angels.
There’s a lot that I want to write about: practical information about preparing for a horse to die, his last day which I did not know was his last until it was, and the good fortune of having a good vet. I want to write about some of the children who knew and loved Albert.
So there’s your warning. I’ll likely be writing an awful lot about our horse, even though he’s gone.
Right now, I think I’ll just remember him. Remember what a good life he lived. What a blessing he offered to me and to so many.
I’m writing this post on a plane to Portland. This morning in the security line two people cut in front of me – a grown woman and a teenage boy. Tit for tat goes against my personal code of conduct, but I shook my head and, nearly shouting, said, “Dude! That’s so not cool to cut in line. I mean, really, it’s just uncool.”
I tried grabbing my outburst by the tail, hoping to coil that beast right back to where it originated, so I could pull it out and examine it later. My heart is suffering, and a suffering heart sometimes cloaks itself in wrath. The part of me that tries to do better by folks than I did by those cutters almost explained to them, “My horse died. And, I’m so sad.”
But, I just turned away, took off my shoes, and then put them back on.