“You're still not here. It's a time-worn habit so I keep checking.” Anna Blake, Author and Equestrian, on the one year anniversary of losing her beloved horse Spirit.
Yes, I can’t help it. I keep checking for my handsome senior gelding who passed away in August. Every time I round the corner from the feed room to get my saddle there Sportie’s stall sits, empty. I hate not seeing him there watching over me, and I quickly avert my gaze. As much as I love Peachie Girl and all the other sweet horses at the stables, there will never be another Sportie and I miss him so much it physically hurts. I have been riding Peachie Girl for a month now and still accidentally refer to her as “he.” And then I stop, catch myself, clear my throat, and go on.
This past Saturday morning one of the boarders at the stables who usually comes out in the afternoon came early so that our shifts overlapped. She hadn’t seen me since Sportie passed on and she grabbed me for a huge hug. Everyone misses him. I drove home brushing fresh tears away, which I never seem to run out of lately.
When I entered the door of my home, my daughter Janette was there visiting with my husband. They both looked up expectantly, waiting for me to spot the canvas painting propped against the stairway. This time my fresh tears were filled with emotions not just of loss but of appreciation for the kindness of a fellow animal lover. Janette knows how they can insidiously wrap themselves around our hearts, to never let go. She had taken some of my favorite phrases from my blog and surrounded a painting of Sportie’s headshot with them. The number “32” stood out boldly, celebrating the wonderful 32 months I had with him. The personalized portrait now hangs in my family room, watching over me.
Basically, animals are a temporary gift. If we are blessed enough to have them in our lives, all throughout our lives and we’re over thirty, then we have inevitably had more than our share of sad goodbyes. We need to cherish all the beautiful memories our dearly departed four-legged friends have left in their wake. Only then are we able to keep our hearts open to the next lucky animal that is looking for love. And we go on.
“The joy Eli brought me is already eclipsing the grief that arrived with his loss,” Nancy Shulins, Author and Equestrian, on the one year anniversary of losing her sweet horse, Eli.