It all began on a Friday as I attended the funeral for a previous co-worker who was killed in a tragic cycling accident. She was participating in a charity race for the very hospital we both use to work at. I was mostly at the funeral to show my support for her fiancée whom I had worked more closely with. I was mostly holding it together, even at the sight of her two young children, until her fiancée spoke. The feeling of sadness for this wonderful man who had a second chance at happiness taken away from him so quickly was overwhelming. Emotionally drained and ready for a visit with Salut I headed home to change and then off to the barn.
On my way to see Salut in his “retiree” field I was pulled aside by my barn owner/trainer/”friend”. I was quickly informed that for several reasons including the most important – rumours – once Salut was gone I was no longer welcome as a client.
Well that was a shock that I did not see coming.
Saturday rolled around and I wasn’t feeling much better. I spent most of the day at home in my pajamas, when late in the evening the doorbell rang. I was being served with court papers that a cyclist who slammed into my car two years ago was suing me. I was not charged and the cyclist was clearly at fault even admitting he was going too fast. However in Ontario this does not prevent him from trying to sue me for his injuries. It will also count as an at fault accident against my premium and I paid a deductible to get the dent in my door fixed. At this point I’m not sure if I should have a mental breakdown or not but since I am still able to debate it… I save it for another time.
Sunday morning I awake to a call from the barn that Salut is having a rough morning and not looking very comfortable. When I head to the barn to visit he seems to be in a better place but I know he is suffering and he has been for several weeks. I call and leave his owner a message again pleading with her to do the right thing.
Monday morning I lost my best friend. I have never loved anyone or anything more than I loved this creature. It was a bittersweet ending but more bitter than sweet. About four months ago Salut’s shivers had begun to deteriorate quickly and his heart murmur had worsened. At 22 the vet reassured me that he had lived a full life given his circumstances.
Salut had seen me through difficult times in life, a challenging home dynamic and a car accident that left me with difficult to treat chronic pain and two surgeries. He always gave me a safe getaway in his gentle sensitive aura that followed him everywhere.
This is the horse that licked my hands and jeans when I broke down crying in front of his stall one day when life had just dealt me some difficult blows.
The horse that gently touched all my various injuries after my car accident.
The horse that felt so bad after dumping me he walked right back to me every time (even if I was yelling absurdities).
The horse that followed me around the arena with no lead attached (and no carrots in sight).
The horse that was so upset after falling in a ditch, he buried his nose in my fleece as we walked back to the barn.
The horse that found that extra strength to get up, even on his worst days, just at the sight of me.
When my mother couldn’t comfort me just his presence did, but often it was accompanied by warm snuggles.
A relationship that spans 11 years is a long time especially considering I went from being a teenager to an adult. I am so thankful for the time Salut and I have had together as I truly know he has been living on borrowed time these past few years. But in the past couple of months I often wondered about what the world would be like without him. Would it be a sadder place? Would it be a meaner place? Would the sky still be blue? How incredibly lonely would it be? Who would understand all of my quirks without judgment? Would anyone else appreciate me for being me?
I’m still trying to figure that out.