It’s been almost two years since my beloved horse, Baby, was released from her pain by Ged and his gun. Almost two years of grieving. Brought to my knees by the physical pain of loss, feeling like my heart has been torn in two, flung to the ground by tsunamis of tears and aching, shaking misery at never touching or holding or seeing her again.
I have knelt on my yoga mat with her halter clutched to my chest and wept oceans of tears for my friend, my mother, my comforter, my saviour, my rock. She was all those things to me. Just to walk alongside her with her lead rope in my hand, chatting or silent, brought me incalculable happiness. I didn’t spend enough time with her. I didn’t make time to spend with her. I was too busy with renovating the house, falling in love, all the work involved in getting married on the farm, improving the farm, looking after all the other animals, having a baby, being tied to the house and Ben . . .
Poor Baby didn’t get a look in. And yet when I did make time to take her swimming or stand in the river and wash her down, or give her a bath with shampoo and conditioner, I was filled with a simple happiness and joy. Feelings that were so rare in all my post natal and menopausal depression. Why didn’t I realise that I could create feelings of peace, contentment and light-heartedness simply by being with her, feeling her immense solidity and roundedness. She was an anchor for me for 12 years, tethering me to the planet when my depression and despair urged me to leave it.
Whenever I drove or walked past her I would whistle and she would lift her head and whiffle at me. So much said in that sound. ‘Hi. I miss you. I love you. I see you.’ So much connection in that simple exchange of love. Yet she wasn’t a great cuddler. Normally walked away from me and was hard to catch. Loved to turn her ass on me and have her put scratched while she swayed against my hands and body, loving the satisfaction of a human scratching post. She would never let me kiss her soft sweet muzzle. I would kiss her eyelids and stand forehead to forehead with her. And I loved to fondle her hairy tipped ears. I knew every inch of her so well, I can still visualise her beautiful hooves, knees, legs (she had great legs!) soft, warm, rounded coat and body. The strands of silver in her mane at the wither, the thick tangles in her tail to be combed out with patience and great love. The wild little plaits in her mane that she and nature created that I would tease out, loving standing with her – another opportunity to just BE with her, forgetting all the ‘to do’ lists for once.
I have been a slave to those lists for so long. As if achievement brings happiness, when all it does is bring the next ‘to do’ closer. I haven’t stopped to smell the roses or take time to rest or play for years. Those are things she has taught me in her passing. I guess she had to leave to teach me that. Now I take time for Second Chance who really is Baby come back to me. She loves to stand and smooch with me and loves me to kiss her muzzle and stand nose to nose, breath to breath, just being, breathing, communing. As with Baby we stand third eye to third eye, sharing spiritual space. Chancy lets me drip tears and snot on her as I still weep for Baby and in gratitude that she came back to me in this new form. This new bay with her pretty, dainty, feet and floating movement.
I have learned so much from Baby and her passing and I have changed. I have slowed down, become much less impatient, more willing to stop and spend time, more understanding that the lists are endless and always will be and we can only do one thing at a time, and do it well. And that taking time to play and be with the ones we love is not wasted time, but the most precious time of all. That is not DOING but BEING that we will be remembered for.
Yes, I want to make my mark on the world, but I have realised that if I can love and be loved, if I can shape and grow a healthy, happy, engaged and engaging child with a conscience. If I can act with integrity, follow my heart and dreams as well as crossing things off the list, I will be happier and mentally healthier, as well as improving the lives around me. In fact, by slowing down, breathing and be more present, I and everyone around me are happier.
I am so much happier recently. I have never known such peace, happiness and contentment. I have rediscovered music, singing and dancing. I have had time to be outside engaging in hard physical labour and am loving the peace of mind and stillness that brings. I am more relaxed, less tense, and more aware of what makes me tense and beginning to love myself enough to avoid those things and situations (self sabotage is still pretty strong in me though!). I am growing older and growing up.
And as I pondered my new-found happiness the other day as I talked to Baby, sitting on the beautiful cedar block Ged carved to mark her resting place, I realised that maybe the ultimate gift she gave me was in her passing.
She gave me the gift of grief. An opportunity to clear out a lifetime’s pain and sorrow by howling out my pain and heartbreak. Grief brings all loss to the surface. It allows us the opportunity to spring clean our damaged souls. All the heartache and heartbreak I have sobbed for has cleaned me out, cleared out the backlog, detritus and junk creating that eternal melancholy in my mind. Now I can be happy.
The ultimate gift, the ultimate sacrifice, by she who knew me better than anyone, who came to save and ground me, without whom I never would have found this farm and land which soothes and heals me as well as provides the home I have looked for all my life. She, who I have known in so many lifetimes, left me in order to heal me. Thank you, Baby, I will never forget you, will always miss you and will always be grateful for the many and myriad lessons you have taught me – both in life and in death.