*To read our story, click here. To see all of the posts about Knight, click on SG Black Knight under “Tags” on the right-hand side of the blog.*
To my beloved SG Black Knight,
It’s been 365 days since I last touched you, yet you are with me every day. I see your face in the sunrise, I feel your breath in the wind, I smell your scent in the air and I see you twinkling in the stars every night. It’s hard to explain how empty I feel even though my heart is filled with you. I just can’t believe it’s been one year since I whispered “good-bye” in your ear as you left this world. I wonder if I’ll ever stop mourning you.
We grew up together… inseparable and the best of friends, even during the worst of times. You were my rock, my angel and my family. For a majority of my life, you were everything. The day that you left for the first time, I was lost. My world ceased to exist and everything I knew was gone. I forced myself to move on, I told myself that it was what you would have wanted me to do. You wouldn’t have saved me all of those times to have me do something foolish in the end. Always my teacher, the lesson of you leaving was the hardest, or at least I thought it was at the time. It took 15 years but I started my life over. Eventually, I found my way back to you. I guess you were waiting for me to learn all that I was supposed to. I’m sorry I was so slow.
The day you came back into my life, all of my broken pieces went back together. Probably for the first time in my life, everything felt perfect. To walk in the barn and say “Hey, Old Fella” and to hear you whinny back at me brought so much joy. I looked forward to the end of each work day because it meant that I was closer to seeing you. Our moments in the sun were always some of the best. Just you and I against the world, like it always had been. We were the oddest superheroes ever.
The day you left me for the last time, I wanted to die beside you. The thought of losing you a second time was too much to bear. When I think of it, I still cry until my hands shake and my voice becomes weak. Why, why did you have to leave me? I know that you saw me there laying in your stall well after you had left your body. I stroked your beautiful mane and I felt so utterly lost. When I slipped your halter off for the last time, I clung to it and I wished you back but you never came. In the days after you left, I felt myself spiraling into a black hole. I withdrew from everyone, I spent days in bed crying until no more tears could fall. I began writing letters to my friends, letters that at one point, I was telling them “good-bye”. Of course, no one knew why they got the letters and now as they read this, I am sure there are lots of “WTF”‘s being uttered. One night during my weakest, I stumbled outside and I caught a glimpse of the sky and I saw you there, that bright star twinkling to catch my attention. As the tears stained my cheeks, I swear I could feel you with me. And so you pulled me out of the darkness once more.
As I sit here now with my stomach in knots and my heart aching, I think back to a young girl riding a beautiful black stallion through a field. Their hair is flowing in the wind as they race away from all the pain in the girl’s life. The two run until they can’t run anymore. Once they stop, the girl slides from the stallion’s back and then she wraps her arms around his neck and she hugs him, knowing her life depends on it. In that moment, the girl forgets the hurt and all she feels is love.
I still think of you like that. Only now after I hug you, you spread your wings and fly away.
I love you forever.
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?
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.**
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.