Just another morning. I actually feel hungover. Mind you,I didn't drink last night and I even got through an entire week without Xanax.
I had finally talked with my best friend last night. The minute I picked up to answer the phone she knew from the sound in my voice. No matter how many jokes or protests that everything was fine, she knew I wasn't.
Once I had started, I couldn't stop. Crying,that is. It was one of those hardcore,punched in the guts,type of cries. You know the kind. Where you find yourself hunching over in agony and you can't even speak because it hurts so bad.
"I miss Gwen," I finally managed to sputter out.
I know that there are some people who would think that such grief over losing a horse is strange. You don't marry them,have children with them and most don't depend on their income. Losing them certainly isn't comparable to losing a human,right? Yet,here I was. Almost a year later, sobbing because I have missed her so much.
I never knew the Devon Horse Show would trigger so many memories for me. At the end of the day I get in to my car, reeking of horses and Devon dust and feel the knife in my heart as I pull away.
If you have ever watched the television series Cold Case you would understand the phenomenon I have been experiencing this week. In the episodes they show cold cases from years ago that are finally resolved. As the detectives interview witnesses or suspects they flash the screen to show the person or area they are describing, back to the original look of the year of the crime. I started watching this show mainly because it is supposed to be about Philadelphia detectives. I get a kick out of references to surrounding suburbs or landmarks of my hometown. As time went on and I watched the screen flash over to recreate the past event it was potraying, I realized that the television screen had nailed exactly what my own brain does. Current events trigger a flash that takes me back to what the original event looked like.
I don't know why I am such a sentimental sap for the past. Sometimes my flashes are not so squishy happy. A song,a smell or just seeing a space of everyday life will flash me right back to whatever memory was lying there,waiting to be shown on the screen inside my head.
This week at Devon was no different. Most of my flashes were happy,funny or plain nostalgic. When I got off the phone with Brit last Sunday night I felt comforted that my flashes still see the fun we had and that I could appreciate the sensation of missing friends and the adventures we shared.
I have worked at Devon for over two decades. Of course I can flash back to the young 20-something girl who was full of dreams and had no clue where life with horses would take her. I get a kick out of seeing her in my head. I exclaim to myself how young she was and how clueless. If that poor girl only knew how much better life would get.
What I didn't count on this week was the Saddlebreds that show at Devon. I have worked many a time in these barns. My Merlin and Gwen were both full blooded Saddlebreds. Before I had owned her,Gwen was shown in the division of Fine Harness. As I stood along the rails last night watching the Fine Harness class, my former trainer and also the person who I got both my Saddlebreds from, came over to say hello. He is getting old now. My brain flashed back to 1990 when I first met him and how he looked then. We made small talk as we both kept our eyes on the ring.
Then I saw her. A pretty chestnut mare with a star and a snip on her face. She had two white socks on her back feet. My brain flashed Gwen. When the flash ended I saw a horse that just resembled her but the feeling it evoked lingered. I stood at the rails and watched a couple more classes and caught up with the man who changed my life so much when he had introduced me to the Saddlebred breed. I had a few more minor, happy flashes as I left the grounds for the night.
It wasn't until the next morning that I realized the flash of my Gwen as a show horse wouldn't stop shutter-bugging in my head. The flashes then became a montage of pictures.
Gwen as a young filly,then a yearling in training, myself climbing on to her back and becoming the first person to ride her,watching the farrier put on her first pair of weighted keg shoes to make her gait, me getting in to my car and crying in grief because she was doomed to the life of a show horse, Gwen in the show ring, Gwen in her stall at Devon looking empty and blank, Dru and I bringing her home, the dollar bill that made my owning her legal,my ex taking her prisoner shoes off, our first trail ride on Marlborough Road,training with Chris in dressage at Dru's,Gwen's surgery in the middle of the paddock with Dr. Donaldson removing her bone fracture fragment, moving Gwen to my Aunt Jan's farm, cold winter nights lifting up her long mane and squishing my face into her neck to stop any tears that may have been falling, pictures of Gwen with my pony Coral surrounded by buttercups, Gwen by herself in the snow when Coral died, Gwen greeting Romeo for the first time, Gwen with her head up watching me intently as I approached her in the pasture, Gwen whinnying a greeting when I walked in to the barn, Me draped across her broad back with my arms hanging down as she grazed in the pasture, looking through her ears as we rode alongside the corn fields.
Finally to that last day. The panic phone call from my aunt,the vet coming out with his wife in the middle of the night,the phone call to New Bolton,my phone call to my ex to try and get a trailer, watching Gwen go down in the paddock as my uncle and I tried to beat her into getting back up,Dru coming up behind me and holding me while I told the vet it was time,hearing Gwen's last snort as he gave her the final injection,watching her legs crumble as she gently went down, cradling her head in my arms as her eyes went to glass,burying my face underneath her mane to squash my tears one last time, carefully cutting locks of her mane and tail,Dru and Jan leading me away, to finally visiting her fresh grave after my Uncle Steve had buried her.The pictures go on forever.
After Gwen's death I made a montage of pictures of her and uploaded it on to the computer. Although I am grateful for the actual physical photos, I am more grateful for the flashes in my head. Even the bad ones, I know that they make up who I am today. I'm not always feeling confident that this is where life should be going. I keep seeing the flash of myself in my car after Gwen had those first keg shoes put on. Praying to the Higher powers to somehow make it possible that I would save her from the horrible life of a show-gaited Saddlebred.
It took three more years, but God did finally answer that prayer. I have that image of bringing her home burned in to my very being, inside my soul, to remind me that life is one complete beautiful picture story.
Kodachrome,they give us those nice bright colors. Oh dear God,please don't take my Kodachrome away.
FIRE UPDATE 12.9.17
1 month ago