It is 6pm and I am feeling antsy, like there is something big that I have forgotten. I cannot relax and I am walking around my house a little lost, but there is nothing for me to do, nothing forgotten, and no way to burn off the energy that I am feeling. I should be used to this feeling; I get it every day between 3pm and 9pm, the longest stretch of day for me to get through. You see for the last 15 years I have had something big to do at this time, something so important my entire life was scheduled around it. I had to take care of my horse, Mestena – but in March I lost her to acute liver failure. In reality, saying goodbye was the easy part. Figuring out how to rearrange my life without her, finding things for myself to do, that is the hard part. And while this nervous energy is quietly driving me crazy I have not done much to calm it. I have co-workers with horses, family with horses, friends with horses and I am sure that any of them would be happy to let me spend some time with their horses. They would be happy to let me burn off some of this energy, but I have not ever asked. Mostly because I am not ready – even after 6 weeks the pain is too fresh and those horses, while I am sure they are wonderful, are not mine.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said “It is better to have loved than lost” – I kind of want to punch him, because I am not sure that the love is worth the pain. Rose Kennedy said “Time heals all wounds”, I want to punch her too. While I know that in those words there is truth, I have lost enough to know that time heals and I would not trade my past experiences for anything, right now the loss just sucks. I know that is not a very elegant word, and I have searched my mind for a better way to phase that, but there is not. Death sucks. It does not matter if it is a long drawn out illness and you battle it with everything you have, or your pet seems fine one day and the next you are hearing the vet say “there is nothing we can do.” It just sucks.
But I know the truth in these quotes. Mestena shaped so much of my life and so much of me, that I cannot imagine my life without her. She gave me confidence, strength, goals to work toward, a strong work ethic and independence. Mestena was a shoulder to cry on, a friend to goof off with, someone to love and to give love to, and an escape. Going to the ranch where she was boarded was like going to another world - a peaceful, quiet place where I had time to think, time to deal with stress. A transitional period between work and family. When work was stressful I knew that afterward I got to see her, and process my day in peace. When family was too much, I could escape to the ranch and lose myself there. When cell phones first became popular, there was no cell service at the ranch, so I could not worry if someone was trying to get a hold of me, it would have to wait. Even when the ranch had cell service I did not tell anyone. The ranch was out time, Mestena and me. Now it is gone and in addition to the loss of Mestena, there is the loss of the break from reality. At home there are dishes to be done, carpets to be vacuumed, laundry to be washed - the list goes on and on. And while I am grateful for all the chores, because it gives me something to do in the evenings, I miss the calmness of the ranch, the one place where I always knew where I stood, had all the answers, understood the rules.
So I am grieving for more than the loss of Mestena. There is a lifestyle loss as well and it hurts, but I am afraid to let go of the grief, the feeling that I am forgetting to do something, because even though I am not ready to let another horse into my life, I do not want to forget those feelings, the lifestyle that I once had. It would be like forgetting her. And I’m not ready for that.