To the Opossum from Last Night

Dear Opossum From Last Night,

It’s been 23 hours since my family and I witnessed your demise.  It’s been 23 hours since I’ve been able to look at my best friend, even though he’s in the same room as me.  For that amount of time, I’ve hated my dog for what he did to you.  Suddenly, I don’t hate him anymore.  Instead, I pity you.  You see, I finally took the time to notice some things.  Those things really don’t work in your favor.

Last night, you met my best friend Bowser.  I know that the whole “opossum” thing is to play dead and sometimes, that is what you should do and it can work to your benefit.  However, last night, what you should have done was fall over and… laugh.  You should have reached out your cute little hand and pointed your finger at Bowser and just laughed hysterically.  I know you heard him coming.  He’s so fat that the deck shakes when he walks on it.  He’s detached the stairs nearly completely off the deck simply by bounding his fat ass up and down them for all these years.  The act alone of just heaving his lard butt off of the couch and walking to the door is enough to cause him to have labored breathing and wheezing that could rival that of any asthmatic or Biggest Loser competitor.  His 15-year-old body creaks and cracks and sometimes, it sounds like his toothpick legs will snap.  How did you not hear him?

He’s the slowest creature ever.  Sometimes, I want to strap him to the back of a turtle so he can get back to the house before it’s been long enough that I need to wax my upper lip.  Standing at the door and calling him is a nightmare.  It takes 10 minutes for him to make it from the tree to the stairs and to be honest, that’s about three feet.  in that amount of time you could have called a taxi, went to the bar and had enough to drink that you would have ended up making some poor decisions.  Instead of doing that, you what?  Oh, yes.  You waited around long enough for lard ass to make it from the deck to wherever it was that he found you.  How did you not have enough time to get away?

Just how did he find you?  The dog can’t see worth a damn.  If he could, surely he would be able to catch one of the 15 pieces of steak that we throw at him.  He just watches and waits for them to hit him in the eye and then fall to the floor.  Once they are there, the doofus can’t find them.  He’ll be standing on top of a piece and looking at us like we teased him.  You blend in with the night!  You dummy!  Were you standing out there with flares, directing him like air traffic control?

Once he got to you, what happened?  I still can’t figure out that part.  I mean, I know that you ended up in his mouth, but how?  He has the reflexes of an old lady with a walker.  Hell the old lady may be faster.  Did you introduce yourself and shake hands?  The only thing I can figure is that you had to have been suicidal.  Sure, it’s completely plausible that you pulled a piece of lattice from the deck and you took your own furry life with it.  Bowser just carried you in the house in an attempt to save you.  I’m going with that.  It makes more sense than to believe that my elderly, obese, slow, cancer-ridden dog killed you with his one snaggle-tooth.  I’ve seen meth addicts with more teeth than this dog.  Not possible for him to kill you.  He’s never killed anything but a cheeseburger.

You ruined my night, you damn opossum.  I had just cleared three boys from the bathroom and I finally was going to end my week long bout with constipation.  Just as I thought my day was improving, I heard my kids screaming in fear.  I assumed a mass murderer had broken in and he had gutted Larry in front of them.  Before I could get off the toilet and grab the baseball bat I keep behind the door, Paris burst into the bathroom screaming, “Bowser has a possum, Bowser has a possum!”.  I barely had time to cover my pooter before he saw me.  Thanks for traumatizing my already dramatic middle child.

I walked out of the bathroom in stealth mode, fearful that this invader was alive and pissed off.  I was ready to push the kids down and run if I had to.  Survival of the fittest, or in my case, the smartest.  As I crept around the corner and used Paris as a shield, I found you there in my dog’s mouth as he lay on his dog bed in the living room.  He looked like he does every time he plays with a toy.  He just held you in his mouth as blood dripped all over everywhere.  If I weren’t still constipated, I would have likely shit myself.

Larry was a super hero and he got Bowser to finally put you down long enough that he could use the dust pan to put you gently in the trash bag.  Of course, I wasn’t in there.  I had already ran from the room in hysterics, crying like a 13-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert.

I haven’t been able to forget what happened.  Last night, I dreamed that you crawled up the stairs and snuck into my room and stabbed me and Larry while we slept.  All day, I’ve been mad at Bowser and I’ve mourned your death.

While ago, I got to thinking.  It changed everything.  Now, I want to thank you.  You see, I’ve been asking myself just how long Bowser will be able to fight the cancer and old age.  I found a new mass on him last week and I’ve been too scared to make an appointment at the vet.  You showed me that my old dog still has some fight left in him.  While I’m sad that your life ended, I am forever thankful that you showed The Bowz what it was like to feel young again.  You also gave me hope.

Forever your crappy friend,

Bowser’s Mom

Unicorns & Rainbows

Let the Tears Flow

by: Nichole White

One by one the stars are aligning,
To guide you safely to the rainbow bridge
Where your friends from the past
Will be there to greet you with bittersweet joy
Your legs and eyes will be like new,
Pain and injury free
You’ll gallop through the fields
With the wind whipping through your mane
Just as you always loved to do.

Life with you is the only life I know
It’ll be hard without you
Some days it might feel impossible
But please don’t worry about me
I’ll be okay in time.
You taught me how to be strong
You taught me how to live, love and be loved
You taught me how to trust
And most important,
you taught me how to keep pushing on

You’ve touched the lives of many
And been loved by more
You’ve always been a fighter
Never giving up even when you’re in pain
I think you’d live forever if possible
You’re a horse who will always be remembered and never be forgotten.

I want to thank you for everything
For all the hugs and kisses
All the smiles and laughs
All the times you let me bury my face in your mane while I cried
For all the smiles and happiness you’ve brought to others
All the lessons learned
Accomplishments made
And Ribbons won
All the memories made, good, bad and different
But most of all for loving me unconditionally.

I’ll see you again
This isn’t goodbye forever, just goodbye for now
More like a see you later.
I know you’ll be watching over me…
Watching over all of us
I know you’ll find a way to let me know you’re there
You’ll be my rainbow at the end of every storm.

One by one the stars are aligning
To guide you safely to the rainbow bridge
The time has come for you to finally get your wings and fly.
And your unicorn horn too… Both hot pink of course.

I love you with all my heart and then some.
I’ll never stop loving you.
Until I see you again,
Run free, fly high and love whole hearted.

17 years is a long time.  For a 24-year-old, it’s forever.  For as much of her life as she can remember, Nichole White was owned by a beautiful grey Arabian mare named Erin.  Of course, someone is going to say, “Hey, people own horses, NOT the other way around.”.  For that I give a resounding, “Uh uh!”.  The minute you meet the right horse, you become defenseless to their awesomeness.

On October 18th, Nicole and her mom Kathy had to say “good-bye” to the horse that taught them nearly everything they needed to know.  Erin schooled the pair on life, dedication and grace.  They learned to stand strong and fight, to be courageous and most of all, they learned about love.  There is no greater love than that which an animal gives so freely, so completely.  We could all learn so much from our pets.

Unfortunately, our beloved animals don’t stay on Earth as long as we do.  I believe it’s because they were already born perfect.  Pets are sent here to teach us what we need to know and then just as quickly as they appear, they are gone.  But never without leaving a lasting impression on our lives forever.

I came to know Kathy after Knight came back into my life.  Kathy stumbled onto my blog and when she read of Knight’s story, she reached out to me to thank me for sharing something so personal.  When I wrote those blogs, it wasn’t about sharing Knight’s story, it was about me getting my feelings out.

Kathy explained to me how the health of her mare was deteriorating and how difficult and painful it was for Erin’s everyday life.  The family had tried everything but to no avail.  It had come time to make the very excruciating decision to let Erin flutter peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge, rather than to let her suffer.  In a Facebook post meant for Erin,

You have been with us since 1996. You are 27 years old. People call you the million $ pony, because of all the vet and medical bills. You are the keeper of secrets, your neck has had more tears hugged on it than can be counted. You have been the glue that held us together. You are the reason so many kids didn’t take that path, but choose the trails instead. you have been hope, a teacher, a dream come true. You have 3 flat tires & no spare. How many nights did we sleep in the barn with you thinking it was your last ? How many injuries did you beat the odds come back stronger than ever? How many times did Dana Pantano, DVM have that talk with us? Then shake her head in disbelief, big smile and say clear! Go! Your heart brought you back. You have a heart the size of a draft horse. Now I need one more favor. I need you to tell me if its time for you to get your wings and become a unicorn.  -Kathy Randall

After Kathy and Nichole gained their strength, a promise was made to Erin.

I will not let you leave this world hurt or sick or ugly. I will not have your last memories of your beautiful life be a bloody, scary, painful. Your last thoughts should reflect this world that loves you & you loved. Groomed class A show perfect, You will enter & exit as you did each show ring. To shine so brightly,your own light to see your wings. Go girl, you’ve earned them. I’ll hold the gate. -Kathy Randall

As you read this, a pink unicorn looks down from the heavens.  Her wings are relaxed as she watches intently over a special place in Massachusetts.  The unicorn bows her head and her wings expand, releasing purple, yellow, blue and pink glitter from them.  The glitter gently falls from the clouds and forms a protective rainbow over  the place where the unicorn left her heart.  The unicorn isn’t worried though, she left her heart there on purpose.  She knows that some day, long from now, it will be returned when she’s reunited with her family.  The beautiful pink unicorn lifts her head high, her wings spread wide and she begins to fly towards a handsome black stallion.  Together, the two fly high above the sky, watching over the girls that they made into women.

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Bullies Suck

bully

 

I sat here for at least 10 minutes, stuck on what I would title this blog post.  Finally, I decided that there is no better way to put it… bullies suck.  After being bullied mercilessly as a child and teenager, I now get to watch my own children suffer the same fate.  Just what the hell is wrong with people?

Now, I am NOT the mom that thinks that everything is bullying.  Kids can be obnoxious and sometimes, they truly don’t mean harm by what they are doing.  What I am against, is the children who constantly put down another child and the brats that put their hands on another kid.  It’s sad to know that they get by with it.  Hell, it’s completely heartbreaking.  Schools claim they have “no tolerance” for bullies but it just isn’t true.  This isn’t a new thing, it’s something that has happened for as long as there have been kids.  So, what should we be doing?

My kids are adorable.  They are sweet and loving and that in and of itself, makes them targets.  You have a child that shows emotion?  You might as well be painting a giant bulls-eye on their back.  The more perfect a child is, the greater the chance that they are going to be tortured by another kid.  Name your son “Paris” like I did and you might as well just kick him yourself.  Yes, what I just said is harsh but damnit, this is serious!  What we do as parents directly affects our children.  We can try to change those things or we can sit here with a “woe is me” attitude and we can complain about something that we don’t try to fix.

A few days ago, my youngest son came home sad.  I knew something was wrong and when I asked him, he shied away from me.  Paris (my 9-year-old) spoke up and he told me that Bristol was sad because of the bullies at school.  Paris then turned to Bristol and he told him how proud he was of him.  Then I heard the details of what happened at school that day.  Another student was getting picked on at school so Bristol stood up for him and he asked the bullies to leave the kid alone.  Almost immediately, the bullies turned on him and they began to kick him under the table.  Bristol didn’t mention a word to the teachers.  How could they not have known?  Bristol told me that after it happened, one of the boys was acting like he was pointing a gun at him and was pulling the trigger.

It’s only been a week since Bristol came home and he told me that he needed to take chips to school the next day “or else”.  I asked what that was all about and he said that one of the boys in his class told him that if he didn’t take chips for him the next day that he would give him “a whooping”.  Really?  Physical harm over chips?

Things for Paris aren’t much better.  Of my 3 boys, he is the most sensitive and always has been.  In Kindergarten, he would come home crying, telling me how the kids on the bus were making fun of him and calling him names.  Their favorite torture was to call him “gay” and by the time he was 7, Paris started to believe it.  I taught him how to respond to bullies and he honed his skill.  He would come home on the bus and say, “Hey, mom!  The mean kids picked on me but I did what you told me and I didn’t let them see me cry.  I just turned my head away so they couldn’t see my tears.”  As a mother, to hear your child say that, it crushes you.

After one of my boys was punched in the stomach during the morning bus stop, I changed their daycare and I put them in the before and after school program.  That way, they never had to ride a bus again.  I hoped that it would stop what was happening but that was short-lived.

Nearly every day, my boys come home telling me what another kid said or did to them.  While sometimes I think my boys are trying to get some extra attention from me, all the other times, the mom in me wants to go find the kids’ parents so I can punch them in the throat.  But then, I’d be just as pathetic as they are.  Double standards…

I’m thirty “something” now and even though I grew up and moved out of the town where I lived, I still carry those horrible, horrible days with me.  Sometimes, I forget what I ate a few hours ago but I can always tell you who my bullies were in school.  The school bus was always the hardest thing for me.  When I would get home, my hair would be full of gum and spit wads.  And that’s IF I got off of the bus successfully.  Once, two of the bullies on my bus (who were sisters and the bus driver’s kids) reached under my seat and they tied my shoe laces together.  When I stood up to get off the bus, I tripped and fell and I hit my head.  Another day, they painted the back of my new shoes with nail polish.  Life on the bus was hell for 10 years and then I took matters into my own hands.  As a plea bargain one morning my Freshman year, I grabbed bottles of alcohol from the cabinet at home.  When I got on the bus that day, I tried my best to act “cool”.  I tried to be different, as different as possible.  I thought that if I was bad, maybe they wouldn’t be so mean.  By 8:30 am, I had given a handful of kids enough Wild Turkey to have them passing out on their desk.  I never touched the stuff myself, of course, that didn’t really matter when I got called into the principal’s office.  The principal talked to me and asked me why I did it and after I told him, he said that if he had it his way, he wouldn’t have to punish me at all.  We all know that he did anyway.  I had a day of ISS (in school suspension) while the bullies got to have out of school suspension.  It was the one and only time that I ever got in trouble and it was only because I was at my wit’s end.  After that, people on the bus left me alone.  Sometimes they would even try to sit by me and talk to me.

I know what bullying is.  I got it at school, I got it on the bus and I had the joy of having it at home.  They cut my hair,  ruined my clothes, took my school papers and ripped them up, spit in my face and they laughed at me every chance they got.  I would hear their whispers and I’d gather my things when it came to my stop.  I’d try to hold my head high and I’d walk off the bus and into the waiting fists of my step-dad.  I had no “down time”, no break from the pain.  Why couldn’t someone have stood up for me?

People, we have to change.  Bullying ruins lives, permanently.  Our children deserve so much more than this.  We deserve more, too.

 

My Heart Will Always Remember

There’s never a good time to say “good-bye” and nothing really makes it easier.  Even when it comes to the last “so long, pal” for a horse that had already disappeared out of my life before.  I grieved his loss for 15 years and when I came to terms with the fact that he was likely already dead, I finally moved on and allowed myself to heal.  I didn’t get to say it to him in person when he left the first time but when my heart started to feel better, I whispered it to Knight in the dreams he visited me in.  Not a day passed that I didn’t think of him and silently think to myself all that I had accomplished because he had touched my life.  He was my angel.  He taught me to spread my wings, how to fly and in the end, how to soar.  Because of him, I’m still here. (read our story by clicking here)

After he magically reappeared in my life last month, I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, the thought of losing him again.  Surely it wouldn’t be as difficult.  I’d already learned to live without him, I could do it again.  Especially since I had one last chance for closure, I was given the gift of time to say that “good-bye” that I never got to say before.  Tonight, I can honestly say that closure was not what I was looking for.  What I needed was eternal life.  I needed an old, decrepit horse to live forever.

When I got the call at 11:30 this afternoon, I left work and rushed to the barn.  I made it there by 11:45 or so and the vet was there soon after.  Knight’s vitals were checked and his breathing was labored, his head bobbed, he dripped sweat, his heart raced and he was in obvious pain.  A rectal examination found that he had a severe intestinal blockage about 90 feet into his intestines.  He was tubed with mineral oil and treated for colic.  I asked the vet if we were doing everything we could and he said that surgery wasn’t recommended due to his age but we could try a “belly tap”.  I agreed and the vet inserted a needle into Knight’s stomach.  He explained that the fluid he would be drawing out should be a wheat color and any other color would show signs of other problems that could have led up to the intestinal blockage.  When he pulled back on the plunger, the syringe filled with blood.  Knight had bled internally for probably quite a while.  The vet said that the gut is one of the first things to fail when a horse is bleeding inside and that was the case with Knight.  An IV was administered and Knight received injections of a pain medication equivalent to Morphine and injections of sedatives to try to calm him down.  The vet left and after about an hour, I got worried and I thought he should come back out and that maybe we should put him down so he wouldn’t suffer.  While I thought that I had come to terms with it, the vet thought otherwise and he said that he just couldn’t stop when I wasn’t ready and he didn’t think Knight was yet either.  He hung more bags of fluid and left again.

Around 5, I finally left the barn and Larry stayed with Knight while I went to get the boys from school.  On the way to the barn, I tried my best to explain what was happening and that I thought it was time for the boys to tell Knight “good-bye”.  Paris was heartbroken and refused to leave the barn.  He just kept saying over and over, “I’m not leaving so you might as well get it out of your head.  I’m sleeping here with you and Knight.”  After much struggle, we finally got a bawling Paris to leave the barn.

I settled in my chair, right inside Knight’s door, resigned to my post until the time that Knight got better or he left me.  I would not leave him in his time of need, I planned to see this through, no matter where it was going.  That horse never left me when I needed him and it was about time that I paid him back for saving me all those times.

Just after 8, one of Knight’s former owners came to the barn to see him.  She had seen my post on Facebook and rushed out to the barn.  Thankfully, she was there or I would have been all alone.  I was blessed to have her there for Knight and I, all the way through the end.  Some may think it odd that I had a perfect stranger sitting with me but this wasn’t about me, it was about Knight.  She was a part of his life just as much as I and she loved him just as much.

At 9, Knight became listless and he began to back around his stall.  At 9:30, I was at my wit’s end and I thrust a carrot at him and told him, “You HAVE to do this!  Eat this and get better right now!”.  He looked at me like a scorned child and he leaned out and reluctantly took the carrot and ate it.

By 10, exhaustion had set in and I had finally come to terms with the fact that the situation wasn’t improving, it was getting worse.  Knight could barely keep his eyes open and he was starting to fall against the stall.  I made the horrible decision to end his suffering and I called the vet back out.  He said he’d be at the barn in 40 minutes.

I guess Knight was paying attention and he was waiting for me to come to terms with what was happening.  Within minutes of me calling the vet, he moved to the front of his stall, directly in front of the door and as close to us as he could get and he laid down.  He rubbed his head across his soft shavings one last time, he closed his eyes and stretched out his legs and then he was gone.  He took his last breath as I held his head and stroked his face and as his former owner stroked his neck.  Both of the little girls that he raised were with him when he left.

My angel left me for the last time tonight.  At 10:15, he laid down and was gone.  I think that even in his final hours, he thought of me and he tried to protect me.  He fought hard, I think to give me time to be ready.  And when I finally thought I was, when I had finally made up my mind, he spared me the pain of following through.  He waited until I was ready and when I was, he was gone.

The heart doesn’t forget and mine will always remember a beautiful, black stallion who kept angel wings hidden under his mane.

I think my son said it best.  He said,

“You know mom, when Knight dies, it’s never going to be dark again.” I asked him why and he said, “It will be impossible. When he’s in heaven his star is going to shine too bright.”

I’m already looking to the heavens and searching for the brightest star where I know my old fella will be shining brightly and watching over me for the rest of my life.  Guess I’ll have to be investing in a telescope.  How else will I solve all of life’s problems?

When the Past Meets the Future

Never in a zillion years could I ever have imagined what happened today.  It’s something more than I could dream up.  Waiting in my mailbox, I found my past and my future, mingled together among the junk mail and bills.

If you’re lost already, you had better stop now and read my blog post called “The Heart Doesn’t Forget“.

Today, I received 2 large envelopes from the Arabian Horse Registry.  One was Knight’s registration papers and the other was Ziggy’s.  In that moment, I was filled with a flood of emotion and I became a wee bit overwhelmed.  Never would I think this possible, yet it happened.  Sitting side by side in my mailbox, was my past and my future.  The papers of the horse that was my salvation, my rock and my best friend for 13 years were gently creased into the papers of the horse that brought me back to life.  Losing Knight all of those years ago was devastating and it took 15 years for me to get over it.  Just when I started to heal and I let a new horse in my life, Knight came back home to me.

I’ve tried to sit here and write about what it was like the day that I brought him home and each time, I find myself deleting everything that I wanted to say.  It’s so hard to go back to what I felt but to sum it up as shortly as I can, when I first saw a photo of what Knight looks like now, I vomited.  I always remembered him as the young, chubby and stunning black stallion.  What I found a few weeks ago was worse than a nightmare.  The horse that I loved more than life itself, was just a shell of what he used to be.  Where glistening blue-black hair used to shine, large patches of grey hair and bald spots stood.  Where muscle and fat were abundant, I could now count every single rib that he had.  His backbone protruded, his eyes were both infected and he had a large, open wound that was so infected, proud flesh had already set in.  Knight was in such bad shape, his back legs would fold as he tried to stand.  I never could have prepared myself for any of that…

Knight is receiving the very best of care.  He stays in a nice stall, with thick, cushy shavings atop a rubber-matted floor.  He’s always laid down to sleep and seeing him stretch out in his shavings gives me hope.  He has all the Brome hay that he can eat, he’s fed Equine Senior 2x a day by the barn staff and 1x a day by me.  He’s on ProBios (a probiotic) to help with his digestion and he gets a gallon baggie of alfalfa pellets in the evening when I go see him.  We wash his eyes out with a sponge soaked in warm water, he gets brushed and then we do 10 minutes of hydrotherapy before we doctor his front leg.  Once we’re done with that, we take a walk to the back of the barn so Knight can stand under the shade of the tree while he eats grass.  For the past 3 days, he’s got to go out in the pasture with me and the boys and he’s really enjoyed that.  He gets hugs, kisses, carrots, peppermints, apples and horse treats every day.

The vet came out and sedated Knight and found that his teeth were in horrible condition.  He had a large infection from where his teeth were puncturing the upper and lower arcade of his mouth.  His teeth were floated but because they were so bad, we will likely have to re-do it in a few months.  A fecal test showed he had worms so the sample was sent off for further testing.  He was wormed, received antibiotics and his wound was checked out.  It will be months before we know if we can reverse the damage that’s already been done.

We have a very, very tough road ahead of us and I don’t know that I can save him.  It’s horrible to think that way but each day I wake up, I wonder if Knight woke up, too.  Tonight on the way home from the barn, Paris told me that we needed a miracle and that God had a lot of work to do.  I said, “Yes.  We need God, prayers, miracles and angels.”.  Paris said, “And faith, Mom.  Don’t forget faith.”.  My 9-year-old is wise beyond his age.

Me and the boys have talked about the possibility that we can’t save Knight, that he may be too far gone.  For now, we will ignore what is staring us in the face.  Instead, we are planning the celebration that we will have next June 7th when Knight will turn 29 and Paris will turn 10.  There will be a huge to-do, party hats, carrot cake and one girl who will smile to herself knowing just how far she’s come.

**The photos below have been edited.  They were taken on July 31st, 2013 by my friend and very talented photographer, Jennifer Hague of FixYourImages Photography and by her amazing boyfriend, Aaron Starr (individual photo credits are below each photo).  These photos weren’t meant for the public, they were taken so I would have a photo to remember our last days together.  For my benefit, Jennifer did some amazing editing and she worked hard to make Knight look how I’d like to remember him.  Thank you to my friend Jennifer and to her lucky man Aaron for capturing the love between a girl and her horse.  Your gift is something that I will treasure for a lifetime.**

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Starr.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Starr.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

Photo courtesy of FixYourImages Photography.

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