A sob is stuck between my chest and throat. Unmoving, reminding me that someone is no longer in the barn. Everyone loses loved ones, two-legged and four. At the moment I don’t know if it’s better to get the news from the veterinarian or live every second of the story in first person. I’ve done it both ways.
Being notified spares you from memories of the final moments but deprives you of the experience. Sometimes there’s even the temptation to feel guilty because you weren’t there.
This time was different.
I’ve discovered horses and dogs that passed, including one I dearly loved and planned to share a lifetime with. Most have clip-clopped onto the Rainbow Bridge because I made the appointment with the veterinarian. It was time for them to go – sometimes later than it should have been – but I had time to begin the healing process in advance and knew it was for the good of the one I loved.
After 18 Years, Q Came Home
The first time I said good-bye to Q he was a vibrant three-year old Appaloosa gelding, the son of champions and capable of following in their hoof prints. Q left us and entered Susan’s life, his forever person who loved him for much of her life and who mourns him more than we do. Circumstance brought Q home to us a little over a year ago.
The past year was filled with connection, marveling at family resemblance, and bringing Q back into work after years of retirement. I’d never rehabilitated a geriatric horse with issues. Finally, after ten months of physical, emotional, and financial investment, Q rode well and I looked forward to achieving a few more steps before admitting the old gentleman (stinker) had reached his limit of what was possible.
From this side of The Rainbow Bridge
The day was blustery, gray, frigid, and wet. Q didn’t come in for breakfast with the others. I found him standing quietly, not far from the covered area of our barn home that the horses use for shade, naps, exercise, or staying out of the weather. It took everything we had to get him under the roof. My husband has always put his body on the line for critters, this being no exception. He’s out of commission for the moment but doesn’t regret a thing. Once inside, there was no moving Q further.
I knew. Hoped I was wrong, but I knew. At twenty-two, with heart and circulation issues, Q recently started showing small signs of gradual decline. The veterinarian came quickly but could offer no treatment or action. Q’s only normal vital sign was his core temperature. He was already stepping onto the Bridge. We said good-bye – for now.
Regret is failing to do something you could have, doing something you didn’t need to, then wishing for a do-over. Love doesn’t regret. It rejoices in time spent together and shared memories, no matter how brief.
No regrets here. Just blessings of what was and what is yet to be.
I believe that Q waits on the other side of Rainbow Bridge for Susan, the woman in his life for eighteen years. But I know I’ll have visiting privileges.
Written January 3, 2019, the day we lost Q. I had to wait a bit before sharing this experience. God is good, provides healing and context, and it’s time to remember with love and move forward.
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