Does it get easier as you work through week’s three and four? No. At least it hasn’t for me. What has happened is that I am coping better. Maybe that’s all we mean when we say it will get better. I don’t know. For me, “get better” would mean more than that, but I suspect that “get better” in most minds is truly coping better, where I have gotten to be within the last two week of this first month after Blue Blue Sea’s passing. I am not crying so much, and I think my mind has resolved to the fact that I will never see Blue again on this Earth. Writing that sentence at the beginning of the month, even a couple of weeks ago, would have made me cry. Now, it makes me very, very sad, but at least the tears stop before overflowing.
The big event I had to come to terms with in week three was the first visit to the barn since I had been there the morning Blue died. I think back on the innocence the barn had always held for me prior to Blue. The barn had always been this magical place where my cares and troubles evaporated. When Blue got so sick and the realization sunk in that he was never going to get over the malabsorption disorder, the barn held some terrors that it never had before. I recall dreading anytime my phone would ring, and I would see a call from the barn. I recall days when I would creep to the barn worried that I might find Blue dead. I never would trade a second of my time for Blue to go back to the more innocent view of the barn, but it was something that was fundamentally changed. This first trip out without him here was another new experience in not quite knowing what to make of it. I did cry, but not so much as I might have at first thought I would. The two sites that choked me up the most were his empty paddock and stall. There was no Blue to see my car pull up, recognize it and then trot to the gate where he would impatiently wait, stomping his hoof for me to hurry along. Gathering as much as I could in that first trip back, the things I will be donating to Day’s End Horse Rescue, gave me something to do. Even though it was a sad something to do because it was another hallmark in severing Blue’s ties to the place, it kept me moving, my mind occupied. I have found in these ensuing weeks that staying occupied is a blessing. I haven’t been back to the barn yet, but I still need to in order to pick up my tack and finish clearing out the locker. That will come, and somehow, I am expecting it to be worse because then everything from our time together there will really be gone.
In that third week, I was also struck with how much Blue had taught me. It may be a bit bittersweet, but it is a blessing that he taught me so very much. I can be squeamish over things like shots and admittedly have a week stomach for odors. With Blue though, I learned to (mostly) overcome my gag reflex and was giving not only intramuscular but also intravenous shots along with even a week’s worth of handling fluids via a catheter. While the knowledge I have gained will never make up for expert veterinarian care, the next horses in my life will lucky that I had Blue for I know ever so much more now than I did when I first welcomed Blue into my life.
Another horse? Somewhere between week three and four, I did start thinking about another horse. I know this about me, I am miserable without a connection to a horse. The longest stretch I was ever without one in my life were my college days and then immediately after them. I miss spending time with a horse, but at the same time I feel guilty even thinking about another. I know that’s not “rational” and believe me, I do think Blue would want me to have another, but right now the thought of opening up to another horse seems traitorous. If I were to get a horse now, it would not be fair to that horse because that part of me that would feel traitorous to Blue would keep me from opening up to that new horse. Part of me is also scared to get another. Scared because down deep I know this truth: no matter how much I love another horse, it will never be on the level with Blue. There is the saying: you get one special horse in a lifetime. I know in my heart that Blue was that horse for me. It will seem weird starting all over again with a new horse. Perhaps that part of what makes losing a beloved animal difficult in different ways than losing a human friend. If you lose a relation for example, you aren’t going to go out and get a new mother or brother. It’s not that either are easier than the other, but it’s a different kind of loss. Most who have a friend in animal form will welcome another into their life and that presents it’s own challenges of the heart. In any case, even if I were emotionally ready, I am not financially ready either. I waited to get a horse nine years ago when I found below because I knew I need to be financially fit to welcome one. When that day comes, and I am emotionally ready, I will have another.
The last thing that struck me at the end of the first month was the falling away of relationships. I don’t mean friendships, those have been solid thankfully, but all the people who you knew through your horse. There’s the farrier, the vets, the people, the equine dentist that work at tack and feed stores. These people weren’t friends, but they were people who I had come to know over these last nine years more deeply than simple run of the mill acquaintances. Each of them knew Blue in their own way whether it was hearing me talk about him or first hand knowledge. Suddenly, you are not seeing those faces anymore. Even if I were to get another horse tomorrow, some of those connections, like the feed store, would not be so needed. Blue had special feed needs that I purchased, so a new horse would most likely not have such needs. Each of these individuals was instrumental though in my time with Blue, especially after he was sick. I can never thank them enough for what they did to help.
In looking back on this first month, I just have to say, do plan and put your thoughts together on what options you want for emergency situations and end of life options for your horse. Know that none of that will prepare you for the emotional side of the eventual loss, but know that it will make some things easier. I knew, for example, that I wanted Blue cremated, even had the number of Agape in my phone. It saved me on the worst day of my life with having to take on another task. My mind was overloaded, and while I am sure, I could have done it, I am very glad that I didn’t have to do any more than face the fact that Blue was gone.