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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?

My Knight in Shining Armor Returns

Two days ago, my knight in shining armor rode back into my life via a crappy, rented horse trailer.  It’s hard to picture a hero riding in via a rusty, old trailer but that’s just what happened, believe it or not.  It was at that moment, my life changed again.

It’d been 7 years since my hand touched the warm muzzle of a special black Arabian stallion and it had been 15 years since I had lost him (view the story by clicking here).  When I found out that he would be entering my life again after all of this time, I couldn’t believe it was happening.  Actually, I didn’t believe it until he was standing in the stall staring back at me.  I couldn’t sleep, I could barely eat and I definitely couldn’t shut up about him.  But, it wasn’t until my hand touched his warm muzzle again that I truly believed that it really did happen.  My best friend, my savior, my love, was back.

When I first laid eyes on him again, it was very difficult.  No matter how many times I played it out, I never thought that I would be hit with so much emotion.  I knew it would be hard but I didn’t really comprehend just how hard.  My heart and my memory pictured a beautiful blue-black horse that was fat, happy and healthy.  What met me on Saturday was an old, greying, broken-down horse that appeared to be clinging to his last days on Earth.  Where fat once was abundant, sharp bones protruded.  Where large black eyes once looked back at me, a lifeless, hazy eye fought a battle with mucus.  His face had lost large areas of pigment and instead of being solid black, it was now a grey and white spotted mess.  If it hadn’t have been for the marking on his leg and the small spot on his forehead, I wouldn’t have recognized him.  That realization was devastating.  My best friend was old and wasn’t long for the world.

I haltered Knight and led him to the trailer, feeling joy and great sadness simultaneously.  I felt happy to be leading my best friend to the horse trailer that would bring him back into my life.  I felt sad for the owner that would be losing him after all of these years.  He’d owned him for 15 years and I know that he loved him very much.  I felt sadness for the old horse that limped behind me and I longed for the days when I had to tell him “easy” as we walked somewhere.  Knight loaded up like a dream and we bid farewell to his owner.

He’s been with me for two days now.  I know that he remembers me and he proves it by banging his door when he hears me talking.  As I enter the stall, with halter in hand, he comes over to me and gets anxious for me to take him outside to eat grass.  If I don’t move fast enough, he nudges his stall door with his nose saying, “Hey pal, let’s go!”.  We walk through the pasture, side by side, best friends reunited.

Sometimes, we pause there in the field and we look over at each other.  It seems like we are both in as much disbelief as the other.  I reach my hand over to push over the mane that had always tried to part on the wrong side.  My fingers touch the disobedient strands and Knight puts his head back down to eat the grass under him.  Our moment passes and we both are comforted in knowing that we are right there together.  Even though our bodies were apart for all of this time, I think our souls stayed entwined together.

People have said that I’m “admirable” or an “angel” for bringing Knight back home with me after all of this time, especially considering his health.  I’m no hero.  I’m simply a girl trying to repay a horse that saved her life countless times.  With him around, I was able to fight through all of life’s struggles.  It was because of him that I woke up each day.  It was because of him that I stayed away from drugs.  He was also the reason I laid down the pistol that would end my suffering.  In the back of my mind, I thought that if I took my life, I wouldn’t end up in heaven where I knew my angel would be when he left the world.  To say that he saved me is an understatement.

For whatever time that we may have remaining, we will find comfort in each other.  We will walk through the field of grass, lit by the falling sun.  Together we will fight, just as we’ve always done.  Our remaining moments may not be substantial in the way that a clock ticks or in the way that one day is replaced by another.  Our remaining moments aren’t for right now.  They will last an eternity.

Me and my old horse SG Black Knight.