Sunday, June 18, 2006

Last Embrace

Today ended the earthly life of a fine horse, a good friend, and an honest soul.

The false hope we had yesterday was brought on by painkillers, and once those wore off, the message to me was more than clear. "Let me go. Help me go. I love you, but I'm tired, and I hurt."

So I made the call, Alex prepared the trailer, and we began the longest hour in recent memory, waiting for the vet to arrive. I offered Montrachet any treat I could think he might want, but he did no more than sniff at even the sweetest offering.

Alex took the last pictures I'll ever have of my grand old man, and I brushed his still-glossy coat with the softest of pony brushes, especially his face. He has ever loved having his face brushed, and closed his eyes and leaned into each gentle stroke.Bella only understood that he was very sick, and we kept from her what was going to be happening, choosing to wait until afterward to try and explain. She brushed every part of him she could reach, and was quiet and respectful, even if she didn't know quite what was going on.

Alex removed the center partition from the horse-trailer, and as the time came near for the vet's arrival, Montrachet and I got into the trailer together for the last time. We listened to Vivaldi, "Autumn" from his "Four Seasons" suite. If I had stopped to think, in the moment, that we'd never do that together again, never "load up" and take another trip together, I'd have fallen to pieces. As it was, I held it together pretty well during the waiting period, reminding 'Chet of the promise I'd made him, that he'd live out his years with me, and nevermore have any concern of being sold to anyone else, and that I'd take care of him. Truly, we carried each other, in one way or another, through the years. I thought I was clear-minded; thought I'd steeled myself for the final moment, but when it came, I could not seem to let go--physically let go of his sweet face. I stood in the trailer clutching that face to mine, covering it with kisses, and sobbing my goodbyes. Doc stood by patiently and respectfully, as, indeed, did Montrachet's own sons and daughters, standing in honor of their sire. It might never have ended; I might never have let go, but for the horse burying his muzzle in the crook of my neck, after exchanging breath with me (it's a horseperson thing, this communication of breathing, and how horses communicate with each other, as well), nuzzling my cheek with his lips, and licking me softly, much as a dog would, several times in a row. This he followed with a big sigh, never moving his face from mine, and that was my release. I kissed that nose several more times, told him how absolutely GOOD he'd been, and said goodbye...and "I love you."

The end was so gentle, and Doc eased him down in the trailer comfortably and without struggle. I knelt there with him, holding his head, for those last few moments, and we passed some final, private communication. When I was sure he was completely gone, I took some scissors and cut off his glorious forelock, to keep for myself. I couldn't bear to take it while he was living, and I'm sure Arabian horse-lovers will understand that.

Then Alex went to cover him with a sheet to keep the flies off (this for me, and no other reason, and my husband to his credit never hesitated at any part of this ritual that fell to him), and I took Bella, who'd been in the cab of the truck listening to the radio, into the house to try and explain what had happened. She has not quite, at this age, grasped the permanancy of "dead" yet, sometimes insisting that dead things can be made to "get better." When she asked me if Montrachet had died like Black Beauty "before he got better," I told her that no, he had died like Ginger from the Black Beauty story, and would never get better or come back, and she cried a little. I cried a LOT.

In the morning, Alex will take the body to a state educational facility for necropsy, so that something can be learned from this death. Upon completion of that, the body will be cremated. I've kept what I wanted, and hope to plant some Montrachet Lilies in a prominent spot in my yard.

Alex lost this Father's Day to death and grief and work, and I owe him a make-up day of honor...but I owe him so much more. He knew instinctively to give way to me during the preparation and carrying out of the euthanasia, and to give me and my old horse privacy and to respect our long partnership. He knew just as instinctively that when the life-spark was gone from my friend, that I needed him to take over, and that is precisely what he did, without being asked, and without complaining. I love him, and I appreciate him more than I tell him so.

I'd like to reprint a poem that was posted in my comments section by "jensgrandma", and which really did help me along in this process.

May I Go?

May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days
and endless lonely nights?
I've lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?
I didn't want to go at first,
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and living light.

I want to go
I really do.
It's difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you're sad and afraid,
because I see your tears
I'll not be far,
I promise that, and hope you'll always know
that my spirit will be close to you
wherever you may go

Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you too,
that's why it's hard to say goodbye
and end this life with you.
So hold me now just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you'll let me go today.

---Written for a beloved pet & friend by Susan A. Jackson

I'd also like to repeat, that Montrachet...was GOOD. He was a good and noble horse, and there was no vice in him. Many of you have seen him become physically less of what he once was, over the last few years, and I would ask, if you love me, to remember him by his beautiful, kind children, and when you think of him, think of him thus, proud head held high:Goodbye, Faithful One. Wait for me close by. I love you.
Montrachet, 1981-2006

60 comments:

  1. I have never, not since I was a child anyway, cried over the death of an animal, until tonight.. I'm glad that you could be with him in the end. What do I say... I'm just... so sorry.

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  2. (HUGS) - I wish I could be there in person to give them to you.

    He was very, very loved and he knew it :)

    That's a beautiful poem.

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  3. I'm so sorry Belinda. Obviously you loved him very much. What a touching post. And Alex is amazing.....just amazing.

    Much love to you all.

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  4. I'm so sorry. I was actually too upset to read the whole thing but it's a wondeful tribute.
    What a beautiful animal he was, and how lucky you were to have known him- and vice versa.


    I really hope you have some happier times up ahead... your readers will follow you through thick and thin but lordy, you need some lightness in your life! xxx

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  5. Always such a hard decision to make... the hardest decision, really. So sorry about your horsey. :-(

    Feel better you...

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  6. that was a beautiful tribute. thanks for sharing that, and i really am so, so sorry.

    peace and love to you, lady. xo

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  7. I'm tearing up here - that was lovely. May God bless this animal, one He created and loved. Also may the love of God help you and family through this tough time.

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  8. I'm very sorry to hear about this. These sorts of posts always kill me inside.

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  9. Oh Belinda. I'm so sorry. But he is at peace now. No more pain. I am thinking of you today. I wish we lived closer, I'd bring you dinner and another shoulder to cry on. Cry it alllll out baby. It's ok. We're all here for you.

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  10. I'm sorry hun. He's a beautiful horse. Way to be strong and let him go. He had a long life.

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  11. Long time reader, first time poster.

    I had to post today. That poem was beautiful, your horse is beautiful.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Shash

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  12. Belinda - wow, sorry about your horse. So very cool that you got to spend these many years together. You did the right thing.

    You're really making a habit lately of making me tear up.

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  13. That poem brought tears to my eyes, I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is never easy.

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  14. Belinda, my deepest sympathies on the loss of one of your favorite boys. I remember his larger than life presence when I was a very small child. He was always one of the most gentle guys that I remember even though his 'stallioness' always scared the bejesus out of me. He was truly special and will be missed.

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  15. Belinda, thank you so much for sharing this experience with us.

    I know you don't need me to reassure you that you did the right thing. You know that you did. He did, too, which is why he called you to help him along.

    I am so envious that you got to know such a fine horse. He was absolutely magnificent. Even through the visible pain, you could see his impressive dignity.

    And this: ", indeed, did Montrachet's own sons and daughters, standing in honor of their sire." Is where I totally lost it. The horse-sense and ritual of it all. It is all so spiritual.

    Thank you for the tears you've evoked in those of us who never had the honor to stroke that noble head. It matters. Truly.

    I wish you peace and healing during this difficult time.

    --Susan

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  16. Oh man, you made me cry.

    I'm so sorry.

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  17. Your post hits so close to home for me today . . . I remember the day I lost my Qui-Qui so well, I need no help remembering the sadness. It's the good memories I have to try to remember these days. But I know it will happen much more easily in time.

    Take care, and I am very sorry for your loss.

    R

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  18. Belinda, you gave your friend the best last gift you could give him, a gift given from love.

    I'm sure he was greeted with wagging tails by Zorro and Cappy, and Rosa to show him the sweetest grass. I can just picture them all together, telling stories about the wonderful woman they knew, who was full of love and kindness, who made their lives so rich and happy.

    Hugs to you, big warm hugs, salted with my tears because I know how hard it is to do what you did, and how much you loved him to do it.

    Godspeed, good horse. Your friend has set you free.

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  19. Reading and horses. My two favorite things. Knowing the pain you have suffered and then reading your sad sad tale about your horse today made me nearly cry keyboard tears.

    You write so well, I honor you.

    Cheers. Sad cheers.

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  20. I'm so sorry...hugs to you.

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  21. Belinda, I am so sorry....

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  22. Belinda, I can't tell you how sorry I am for the loss of your beautiful Montrachet. I've just cried and cried at the thought of you having to let him go.

    I offer prayers and hugs of comfort and strength for you and your family.

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  23. I am sitting here sobbing as I try to say something to you that will ease your pain. And all I can think of is this; I know he loves you as much as you love him. He IS one beautiful horse. Take all the momories you have of him and cherish them. I know he wouldn't want you to be sad, he'd want you to remember him like he was. Vibrant. Beautiful. Full of life. Loving. Proud. Noble.

    If you EVER wanna talk horse person to horse person e-mail me at odell.kari@gmail.com

    I hope your pain will ease soon.

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  24. Montrachet was loved by you, by your family, and by extension to your readers. I'm so terribly sorry for your loss, Belinda. He was a beautiful and proud stallion and it's obvious that he loved you as much as you loved him.

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  25. Aww, sweetie. Bless your heart.

    **hug**

    that was beautiful.

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  26. I am absolutely SOBBING right now. I can't think of anything else to say except I'm sorry and I love you.

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  27. Belinda, I am so very sorry.
    Hugs and cuddles to you.

    May the thought of Montrachet running free in the wind, young, and strong and beautiful again, and patiently awaiting the day HIS person will come to join him so together you may cross the Rainbow Bridge bring comfort to you.

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  28. Ooh, no. Belinda, I'm so sorry.

    As you read, I held my dog as he died last month - it was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever experienced. So I feel you completely - and I'm crying with you right now.

    You were there with him in the end, you'll always have that. As painful as it is, just know your loving face was the last thing he saw - and that comforted him. You have that. We both have that.

    So many big hugs for you, hon.

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  29. Oh Hon...my heart aches for you. In the last two months I was lost a very loyal dog, and two horses that I gre up with. They were in their late 30s and it was time. They are at peace. But it doesn't make it any easier. God Bless!

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  30. Thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way. Big hug for you and one for Alex and Miss Bella, too.

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  31. They are more family then pets.

    {Hugs} and peace.

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  32. Belinda, I'm sorry. What a difficult time for all of you.

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  33. Ah, Belinda, I've read your post over and over and can finally write a message through choked back tears. I've been where you are and it is never easy, but know Montrachet loved you as you loved him and you did what was best for HIM.

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  34. What a lovely, lovely tribute to your sweet friend. You have brought tears to my eyes.

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  35. Wow, what a superb tribute to Montrachet. Your post managed to dredge up my 12 year old self who lived and breathed horses but never had one of my own. He was gorgeous to the end, if you ask me. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  36. Wow, what a superb tribute to Montrachet. Your post managed to dredge up my 12 year old self who lived and breathed horses but never had one of my own. He was gorgeous to the end, if you ask me. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  37. Sorry. I've double posted twice today. Must be my old age and the art mediums I've inhaled recently.

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  38. I have never been a horse person, but I think you may have just changed this. Goodbye Montrachet. Hope there's lots of open grass and free apples on the other side.

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  39. I am so sorry to hear about Montrachet. He was a beautiful and gentle animal and I know that your life has been greatly enriched by having him in it. May he rest in peace as he surely deserves to. Huggs....

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  40. Oh Belinda, the tears are still streaming down my face. My heart goes out to you. What a beautiful post. keep Montrachet's spirt alivev always.

    And thank you for snapping me out of my grumpy selfish phase that I've been in. your post reminded me that there are more important things in life.

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  41. Oh, Belinda, I am so sorry. Such a beautiful, beautiful horse.

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  42. Oh Belinda! I'm so sorry, what a sweet looking horse. I'm glad he had a caring owner like you.

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  43. Oh this was a beautiful tribute to a faithful friend.

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  44. that made me cry my eyes out. i'm sorry for your loss :(

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  45. I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

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  46. Oh Belinda, I am literally writing this through a fog of tears--what a lovely, gorgeous tribute to your elegant old gent. It is a beautifully and lovingly and gracefully written tribute.

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  47. Oh, Belinda.... I stopped by to explain why you haven't seen your SIMS character lately (I lost all my original files during a reinstall and have to recreate them!) and now I'm SO SAD to hear about your loss. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to a beautiful animal.

    In an ironic twist, I posted about horses today too...hugs to you!

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  48. Belinda, I hope you are doing as well as can be expected. It hurts so when you lose a loved one. 'Chet was a beautiful boy. Here's a (((HUG))) through the interweb since I can't give you one in person. :*(

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  49. Belinda, that is a beautiful post! I a very sorry for your loss! Huge huges from Tricia and me!

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  50. I can't add anything or say anything that has not already been said. I'm just so sorry, Belinda. I ache for you guys.

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  51. See your beloved horse on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge someday. Your horse will be strong, happy and running free.

    I'm sorry for your loss.

    CP.

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  52. HEy there... Thank you so much for this post. Thank you for allowing us into your heart. We grieve with you and share your pain. God bless you sweetie.

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  53. It took me four days of false starts to get all the way through your sad and loving post. So many tears shed. He was absolutely a handsome stallion like no other. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to him that you could help him go.

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  54. Oh, sweetie! I'm wiping away tears. Wishing you speedy healing, so that the painful memories recede and the happy ones are always in your mind.

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  55. Belinda,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it is hard for some to understand how deeply we love our animals. Mine are just like children to me. I watch my Sugar horse growing older and showing her age more and more. It breaks my heart to think that someday she will leave me! But she has given me a beautiful baby in LuLu and I see her mother in her more and more every day. So, God willing, I will have Lulu for comfort when her mother is gone! Again, I am so sorry and I grieve for your lost friend.
    Love,
    Angie

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  56. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I have had to make that same choice several times in the past few years and it's never easy. The poem you posted speaks volumes and says it much better than I can...

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  57. My deepest sympathies on having to let 'Chet go. Your love for each other shone through so clearly in your posts. I weep for your loss, but you absolutely did what was best for him.

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  58. Elizabeth BraunsJuly 17, 2006 at 9:19 PM

    Hi,

    I sit here in tears knowing that
    I will one day be in your place.
    I too have a very dear one. I have
    a Witez II grandaughter that is 32.
    I have owned her for 31 years. You
    are one of God's angels and I know there is a special place across
    that "rainbow Bridge" that he runs free without pain knowing the love
    and unconditional caring that a
    true horse lover has. Bless you
    for you are my strengh to one day
    follow in your footsteps to help my mare pass to that great horse haven in the sky. I love the poem !!!

    Sincerely
    Elizabeth in NC

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