This has been the hardest chapter to write. Putting words onto a page means going over the events of Faith’s last day in fine detail. And it has taken so long to be ready for that. Please be warned there is content some may consider graphic and upsetting.
As I made the approach to the paddocks, the fine drizzle hitting my face, I couldn’t help but look at everything as “the last time”. The last time would walk up this lane whilst Faith is alive, the last time I will feed her breakfast, the last day I will get to stroke her, and her last day on this earth, with me.
My heart was so heavy. I felt guilty, like I had sentenced this beautiful pony to her death. No words of encouragement could have lifted my somber mood. I was sad, and that was that. But something did make me smile, and it was Faith. Her short temper was soon in full swing and I sat in the stable doorway watching her moving everyone around the paddock. Her body language was so fine-tuned, it was like witnessing a perfectly rehearsed ballet. I am smiling even now. I can’t help but giggle at Faith’s character. There was this tiny pony of just eleven hands, effortlessly moving around these two much bigger and heavier set horses, with ease.
I was a mix of emotions, anger, frustration, sadness, and an overwhelming sorrow. Who was I to choose whether she lived or died? What gave me the right to play God? It was a heavy weight upon my shoulders, and a belt around my heart. I pulled myself together and got on with the usual daily duties, with Faith as always following around behind me. We stopped and had cuddles, and I could see already that her face was beginning to swell. The smell was growing stronger, and she was struggling to eat now. My head knew that to free her of her body now would save her a huge amount of pain, but my heart so desperately wanted just a little more time. I felt like I hadn't the chance to learn enough from her yet. She had continuously healed me, and I honestly didn't know what I would do without her here.
My friend arrived who had traveled a long way to support me. Neither of us had witnessed euthanasia before. I'd chosen the gun, so it would be a terrible experience for us both. I had warned her, that it would not be a pleasant experience, but as my friend, she stayed all the same. We spent time talking and laughing, and my friend gave Faith a nice brush. “Her last ever brush,” I thought to myself. She swished her new short tail (I had cut her tail off, as a keepsake), as though she was being swarmed by invisible flies. We chuckled at how even something so simple as moving her tail, gave away so many clues to her feisty character.
I used some body language techniques to engage with another pony in the same paddock who was very shy, and soon had her following me around the space. Faith decided to join in, and as one last way to show me how willing and giving she was, I spent a few minutes with them both following me willingly wherever I went. My friend took photos of us, her last photos. It was a beautiful moment, and one I will never forget. I was then joined by another friend and the three of us waited and chatted together, whilst giving Faith cuddles and head rubs and discussing her prognosis.
Soon my phone rang, and the kind man was a few minutes away. It was time. I immediately felt sick, and as though I might pass out. I ask one friend to lead Faith down to the roadside, whilst the other hands out hay to the remaining ponies, and I opened and close the various gates along the way. My mind was immediately running over, “This is the last time she will pass through this gate, this is the last time she will shy at the tarpaulin, the last time she will be given a treat, the last time she will walk this lane.”
The lane was lush with green grass, and at that moment, my pony and I really were walking the green mile. And I intended to be with her every step of the way.
We fed Faith carrots and stroked her neck whilst the kind man maneuvered the horse ambulance trailer into position. My friend turned to me and said, “I am really proud of you, and what you have done for Faith.” And I could feel the heat begin to sting my eyes. I was summoned to step forward and then given instructions on where and how to stand. I held Faith's lead rope and looked at her, one last time. I was shaking, and I could see the gun is being loaded. A small hand pistol that seemed so insignificant, but that would ultimately be the decider between life and death for poor Faith. Part of me wanted to run away, to shout and scream that I don’t want this anymore, that surely there must be a way on this earth to avoid going through with it. My Body was in robot mode as I stood statue-like beside her, but my heart and my mind had already run away dragging the little pony with me.
I fumbled for a mint from my pocket, and quickly fed it to Faith. While I did so, I kissed her on her muzzle and told her "I am so sorry," and that I loved her. I whispered “Goodbye Darling," and I stood back up straight. Before I knew it, there was a bang so loud it was like a flash of light, and Faith crumpled to the floor. The man immediately asked me if I was okay and I say, “I think I’m deaf”. He reached down and un-clipped her lead rope and told me that she was gone, and I could see he was right. It was all over in a split second. I sat down beside her head and told her again how sorry I was, and I stoked her head, trying so hard to stay strong whilst tears slid willfully down my cheeks. My friend approached and stroked her neck. She said goodbye to Faith, and as she did, Faith's body responded by one last cheeky tail swish. A clear up and down movement that I knew was a nerve system reaction but still, it felt a little like her way of waving farewell. I stayed with her for a short while, silently praying that she forgave me, and that she was free now.
Soon the man was gone, and Faith with him. And as he drove away up the lane, I noticed that actually, the clouds have parted, and the sky is blue.
“Wow, the sun really did come out for Faith,” I thought to myself, “One last time”.
There is only one more part to this series, and it is coming next, because I want to tell you about Faith, about what she taught me, and the lessons I have learned from her, and how she still influences me in her absence. Please keep a look out for it.
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