It’s only a few weeks until a monumental day for me and my son, Paris. On June 7th, he will celebrate his 10th birthday. While most kids want to plan Chuck E. Cheese parties, my son has requested only one thing. Unfortunately, that “one thing” isn’t something “happy” or “fun”, it’s just plain depressing. I’ve thought about this a bunch in the past few months. Hell, I’ve dreaded the upcoming day ever since August 28th of last year. You see, there’s a ton to this story…
In July of last year my life was flipped upside down when I was given the opportunity to own a special horse. That particular horse had changed my life. In fact, he had saved my life. Last summer, I got to reunite with my childhood horse, savior and best friend. His name was SG Black Knight and he was a beautiful black Arabian stallion. Just one month before Knight came back into my life, he celebrated his 28th birthday. I knew that I was getting myself into a sad situation of losing him all over again but this time, I would be able to tell him “thank you”. This time, I would get to tell him “good-bye” just one last time. If you don’t know Knight’s story, you can use the search bar in the upper right hand corner and search for “Knight”. Or you can click here to be taken to the first story I wrote about our reunion.
Of course, it didn’t take long for my son to fall in love with the old fella. Knight had a personality that drew you in. One look in his eyes and you knew that everything in the world would be okay as long as he was by your side. For the first time my kids got to see a part of me that lay dormant for so long. Even better than that was that they got to know the love of a very special horse. Of my 3 boys, my middle child bonded with him the most. Interestingly, Paris is the most like me of my kids. I guess Knight knew it, too. As the days passed, Paris took on more and more responsibility with Knight. He began brushing him, helping halter him and he even started referring to Knight as “his” horse. One day after I put Knight out in the paddock for some exercise, I walked back into the barn to clean up his stall. The next thing I knew, I heard the familiar clip-clopping of hooves on concrete. I panicked, knowing that Paris and I were the only ones at the barn. I ran around the corner to find my 9-year-old had haltered Knight and he had taken him from the paddock and was bringing him back inside. While the mom in me screamed, the little girl in me beamed. So what, a kid haltered and led a horse. Big deal. It happens all the time. Just what made that moment so special? My son haltered up and led a horse all by himself for the very first time in his life. AND it just so happened to be the very first horse that I haltered up and led by myself all those years ago. Just thinking of it makes me tear up. Just how often does a child get to experience a first with the same horse that a mother did?
Sadly, our time with Knight was short-lived. He left us on the evening of August 28th, 2013, just two days after the monumental day that Paris led him. On the day that Knight died, Paris begged and pleaded with me to let him stay. I thought it was too much for him to handle so I denied him. That evening I know that Paris begged God and the angels to help his friend live. In the morning, my bloodshot eyes told Paris that Knight didn’t make it. After he stopped crying, he said, “There will be a new star shining bright tonight. Don’t cry mom, he’ll always be with us. All you have to do is look up to the sky and find the brightest star and he’ll be right there.”
One of the hardest things in all of this was the fact that from the moment Knight came into Paris’s life, my kiddo had planned on having a combined birthday party at the barn with him. I wasn’t the only thing the two had in common. Nope, two of my greatest loves also shared a birthday. As much as I tried to explain to Paris that I didn’t think Knight would make it to the next birthday, Paris argued and planned the big day, even down to the detail of the party hats for all the horses. After Knight died, I hoped that Paris would forget his birthday plan. A few days ago, I found out that he hadn’t. When I finally asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he of course replied, “Well, I’m going to spend it out at the barn. Duh.”. Crap. Do you know how depressing it is for your son to want to spend his 10th birthday at a horse barn just because he made a promise to a dead horse?
So, now what? How do I get out of this? I think I know…
I’m asking a ton here but my hope is that Knight’s story and Paris’s love of him has touched a chord with people. Instead of planning a sad, depressing party at the barn, I want the day to be about Paris. I want things to be a celebration. So, I need some help.
I know that Knight has a big list of progeny out there. I’d like for anyone who has a horse with him in the pedigree to take a moment and send me an email or a letter that includes a story/photo of the horse and a note of why it’s so special to you. I plan to take all the letters, photos and emails and give them to Paris on his special day. That way, he can see that his life wasn’t the only one changed by a special horse. Knight will live on his offspring and their offspring and most of all, his memory and love will be with us forever. (Knight’s information is at the end of this blog) Paris doesn’t need to spend his big day next to a grave. He needs to be doing fun stuff!
If this story or the other stories of Knight have touched you, please comment below! I’ll include all the comments on this blog in what I give Paris on his birthday. Make sure you scroll to the bottom for some great photos! Thank you!!
SG Black Knight
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,
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
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.
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?