When I was eight years old I saved up enough money to buy my first horse. I remember working so, so hard. I obsessed over the ledger that I kept, ticking off each little drop in the bucket as I neared my goal. When my horse finally arrived on my parents farm I felt like my future was stepping off the back of that trailer. That. Big. Of. A. Deal. For me, my horse became my freedom. I was a raging, longing little kid, who just ached to be big, and wild, and free. My horse was all of those things, and for a few hours he could just sweep me away to a world where grass waved in the wind like a sea of emerald green and his hooves didn't pound the ground so much as they nearly flew. We were a funny couple, he and I. Me, with my gangly, late blooming body and inability to shut up, ever, even to him. And he with his kind of arabian, quarter horsy grade look and stumpy legs. But we were best friends. I had to put him down when I was seventeen. I stayed with the vet and held his head through the whole process. There's a part of me that wishes I hadn't. I had watched a lot of animals die (I grew up on a farm guys. It happens), but I had never watched something that had a piece of my heart leave this world. Afterwards, I stood in the shower, cried a bit, and basically never mentioned it again. I only told a few, and barely admitted that I was upset. It's life. This shit happens.
I mentioned in my last post that this has been an emotional month. I've seen and experienced so much loss, and so much joy, that I feel as if my heart will explode at times. Something I've realized through it, and it's been nagging in the back of my mind for a while, is that I don't think I really know how to handle loss. I don't know if that's a cultural thing, or if it's just me, but the following are a few thoughts I've had as I've processed, and I really don't have enough motivation to put them into a cohesive post.
- I experience the world in a deeply emotional, spiritual way. It's just who I am. I recount my life as series of incredibly detailed memories, because those memories are like tiny treasures holding my past. Unlocking them, browsing through them, and sometimes healing them, is important to me, because for me, the past is not in the past. I carry a part of it with me all of the time. When a good friend of mine left this world last year I longed to go back and unlock his memories. To share them with people who carried pieces of him too. To ache together that a piece of the vivid patchwork of our lives was no longer there, and could no longer enter our lives again and make us something other than we were before. That was the first time I began to realize that culturally, or perhaps just personally, there was very little space for that.
- Death sucks. It just does. It doesn't matter if a person dies in the womb, or at the end of 95 years, someone still aches for their departure from this world. It doesn't matter if you believe in a afterlife, or Jesus, or heaven or hell, you will still ache. It will still hurt. And it should.
- Death also makes me thankful. I look at my loved ones more often, and want to make a conscious effort to remember them well. I guess one of the things that connects us all in our sorrow, is that if we're close enough to see someone else's, it doesn't take a far stretch of the imagination to realize that "that could be me." To realize, just for a moment, that their pain could be our own, and how then can we keep from mourning with them?
- Why them, and not us? That thought plagues me. Why did your baby stop breathing and never recover and mine was resuscitated and sits with me now? I weep because my joy and your loss are so similar and yet so far apart, and so unfair.
- Life is also beautiful. It holds so much. So much vibrance, and love, and beauty. Those memories I hold, those are worth keeping close to my heart. They remind me of the immense power of even a short life, and I wouldn't give anything for them.
I'm going to leave it there. I believe in honesty, and openness, and while I try to be real in this little piece of the internet I haven't often shared my questions or my aches. Bear with me.