Posts Tagged ‘loss’


In fact I don’t even plan to share it to facebook. This is me getting the crazy grief out.

Yesterday I put my beautiful sweet boy down.

I am heartbroken.

He was 20 something years old and I had him for more than 18 of them. Though he was technically an old horse I fully expected to have another 5 or 10 years with him. He was very healthy and robust and very much the best horse I could have wished for. Even in the end, when he knew something really bad was about to happen, he didn’t bite or strike. He just rolled his eye to me asking “Why?”

He stopped wanting to walk around 3 weeks ago. The vets ruled out anything like navicular or founder. Arthritis was their best guess early on, HYPP was explored and there was talk of tumors. All of these things can’t be fixed, though pain management seemed possible. In the end it seems doubtful it was arthritis or Hypp. Both had vague symptom similarities but just didn’t quite fit. Tumor? maybe. Whatever it was it progressed rapidly.

He was on maximum Bute for longer than he should have been but at the end it didn’t touch the pain. His last day he got up twice to only lay back down in minutes. I brought him water and treats which he ate. Hay he ignored. He had a bit of a bloody nose though this could have been a side affect of the bute and just lay sprawled out in the snow groaning softly.

I called the vet and he couldn’t get out for a couple of hours, so I sat with him with his head in my lap and stroked his face, telling him how much I loved him and what a good horse he was while we waited.

Chicory has always been terrified by vets. One whiff of vet stink and he’d bolt. The only thing I can think was when he was a baby he ran into a barbed wire fence and totally tore up his shoulder. This was before me but I imagine it was traumatic enough for him to hang onto.

So when the vet touched him he popped up like a jack in the box. He struggled to stay up but did. In fact he never went down until the very end. He was given more than 5x the normal amount of the drug that was supposed to put him to sleep so the second injection could stop his heart peacefully.

It didn’t work. What should have been a 15 minute procedure took almost 2 hours and in the end we had to give him the heart stopper without him being asleep.

It was so horrible … I have no words.

You’d think that since I have been crying for weeks because I knew this was where we’d wind up that I’d be all done. But no. The pain washes over me randomly. My horse pen is close to the house so it shouldn’t surprise me how much I look out the window to see him. Yet … it does.

Chicory always whinnied loudly when he’d see me first thing in the morning, which alerted the barn cats they’d soon be fed and they’d explode out of the barn in a mad dash. Even on his last day he managed a weak nicker. This morning … no nicker. Oh how I miss it.

He is being cremated and they couldn’t come out until this morning. I tried to set it up so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I left directions with them the night before and a check in the car.

But at 9am there was a knock at the door. I pondered not answering but what if he was having a problem, so me in my jammies, no bra, crazy hair and my eyes swollen from crying all night I answered. the door. He looked at me sweetly and just wanted to let me know they were taking him.

So there you have it. All my pain out for everyone to see. I’m not sure that I feel any better … at all. But I think it will help at some point.

The photo above is from many winters back and one of my favorites because you can see he was happy and just being goofy. He loved me as much as I him. Even when he got out of the pasture he always came galloping back when I called. Always whinnied and nuzzled and hugged.

I’m one of those touchy feely types who believes animals have souls, so I hope and pray he forgives me for that last betrayal … ending his life before he was ready … and that he is running pain free somewhere in heaven.

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How Your Life Can Change In A Moment

Example #1
Today, I was cleaning the kitchen cupboards when the phone rang. It was a neighbor, asking me if I could see smoke coming from our other neighbor’s farm. I looked out the door to see the gravel road that runs between us, was packed with cars, several fire trucks and an ambulance.

Our neighbor is a woman in her 80’s, who lives alone, but has family living close by. She is like a grandma to Mike and I. You can imagine what was running through my mind. As it turns out, it was her barn that burned down. She is shaken but unharmed. Her house is undamaged and the horses that were both inside and out, are all okay. It was just the barn.

But the barn, was not just a barn. It was a symbol of a way of life. When she and her husband had the barn-raising in 1965, many of the neighbors helped to build it. And when it was completed, there was a celebration in the mow, complete with a band for a dance and a banquet. I have a 25 gallon crock at my gallery, that had been hoisted up into the mow, for use as a punch bowl. Until recently, she had a newspaper clipping on her fridge, with the story of the barn-raising from the year it was built. The article included a photo of her family, standing proudly in front of their new barn.

They are a draft horse family. Her late husband worked the ground with his horses regularly. They hosted bonfires with hayrides in the winter. They showed their horses as well as particpated in Thresher events. When family members die or get married, their horses are present. The horses and the barn are a big part of who they are.

Though it was just the barn, it is still a loss that many of us feel.

Example #2
Yesterday, I was off with my art group. We went to a local gallery. (Out here in the wide expanse of Iowa, that means within 1-2 hour drive.) It was the last day of an exhibit. The husband and wife team, whose work was on display, gave us a personal tour and talk of their show, just before it was to be taken down. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.

I get home later to find out my husband had been hurt. He had been loading hay to sell. He had finished up and went to close the machine shed doors, when a large chunk of ice was knocked loose from the roof and hit him on the head. He said, he swore and hopped around. But then got in the tractor to come home. About a quarter mile down the road he felt some warmth on his forehead and reached up to find blood. A lot of blood. Since I was gone he went over to out aforementioned neighbor and she patched him up. It was fortunate that he was wearing a thick wool hat because I believe, he could have been seriously hurt, had he not. And since I didn’t return home until 6pm, he could have been knocked out in the snow all day. Scarey.

It’s A Cup Is Half Full Thing
In general, most days I think I got it all planned out. And then something random pops up and reminds me that every day is precious and needs to be treated like the gift it is.

A person can look at these events and say “Woe is me. Why are these bad thing happening to me. I don’t deserve this.” Or you can look at it as a blessing. It could have been really serious. Someone could have died. There are so many things to be grateful for. Maybe, it just takes a knock on the head to remember it.

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Man Plans, God Laughs

I have a sign hanging by my drafting table with the statement: Man Plans, God Laughs. I made it shortly after we moved to Iowa because we had big plans for our new life. And shortly after we moved here, we both had some serious health issues. I got a lung infection from stripping wallpaper out of an almost 100 year old farm house. (breathed in black mold) And just as soon as I was well enough to be able to walk 15 feet without falling short of breath. Mike got badly burned along one side, his arm and neck. Truly made me question what we were doing here.

It has been a long time since I took Psych 101. So I don’t correctly remember all the stages of grieving. But currently I am at the Anger stage. Or is it Blame. Lets just call it Blame/Anger shall we, or BA. (also appropriate acronym for Bad Attitude.) And who do I blame . . . God. Yep. That’s right. The big Kahuna himself.

Perhaps, he has struck me down for my hubris of a week ago. When my art group was over, I was talking about how I would like another dog but certainly wouldn’t get one as long as I had Oliver. As it would upset him far too much. And so I said And I expect to have him for at least another 10 years. Those were the words that did it.

In truth, I believe in an all loving God. However, I grew up with a Lutheran background. Where the eternal hellfire of a vengeful God was the usual Sunday staple. And so, when bad things happen I kinda fall back to that. My BA is already going away. I imagine I am on my way to the Acceptance stage. Before you know it, I will be talking about how grateful I am for the 4 years together that we did have. And had I not plucked him out of that ditch, one cold winter morning, his life would have been so much shorter. I will carry on and continue painting in the space that we shared. And life will slowly resume to normal.

Hey, wait a minute . . . do I hear laughing?

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Little Hellcats

Okay, so they don’t look it. But trust me they are. I took this photo the day Oliver died. (That is of course before I knew) I had planned to blog about them that day but lost all heart for anything once I found Ollie.

Three cute little kittensSo here they are today (3 of 4 in the photo). They are looking up at me because no way, no how was I getting down to eye level to photograph them. These are the late (born in November late) litter of barn cats that we moved into the porch because they never would have made it outside.

Two cute little kittensNow don’t let the big eyes and sweet expressions fool you. Thats how they lure you in, yes siree. That and the fact they make these adorable little cooing noises every time they see someone. They are held in half of the porch by a 4 foot piece of tin. So they sit there and coo and look at me with slow blinking eyes. And I think okay just for a little while. I ease myself into the enclosure and sit down on the bench. They tumble around me like little drunks and almost immediately one climbs up into my lap and commences purring loudly. So I know what you’re thinking right now, Umm Mona…what is all this about hellcats? Well let me tell ya.

After approximately 43.6 seconds they transform. One will be chewing on my shoe and one will be dangling from my sweater. Yet another is on top of my head trying to pull out my hair while simultaneously giving me a deep acupuncture treatment. Now the one on my lap at this point usually begins to do one of two things. Either it will be chewing on my hand while I flail feverishly about with my other, trying to nab the one off my head. Or it may have just decided to sharpen it’s claws on my knee. As quickly as I remove one kitten from my tender flesh another is digging in and biting my butt. Seriously. I can only handle them long enough to clean their litter and feed them. Their mother Little Grey has the freedom to come and go from the enclosure as she chooses. (And, she chooses to do so often)

So after all my sad talk of losing Oliver I thought I’d show you some new and bright little spirits in the world. I seriously thought of adopting one in as the new gallery cat but none are really the right personality for me. Besides, it’s not like they could replace Oliver. If you lose a friend, running out and finding another doesn’t stop the pain of the loss. Still . . . a pair (or is it 2 pair) of tiny kitten feet is awfully tempting. Tomorrow I will be at the gallery for at least 6 hours. A long time to go it alone.

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Ghosts in the Gallery

So today I went in to the gallery for a total of 3 hours. Cried only twice. Came close more times than I could count. The rooms are full of him. I move something to find a toy. I roll up some thing and think of how he would have grabbed it. I sat at the computer and thought I heard him meow in the other room a couple of times. Occasionally I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

He had this thing where he would walk up to me while I was on the computer. Stand up and ever so gently put his paw on my arm, then push lightly. Of course I would look at him and then he would meow in a drawn out sort of way, wanting me to push back some from the keyboard so he could climb up on my lap. I thought this happened once today (the gentle push thing) and it actually startled me.

The thing is, he was always with me. When on the computer he sat on the back of the chair and rested against me purring. When working on a painting he would sit on my lap. When doing picture framing he was either under the table or sitting on a chair watching me or napping. He was very vocal and I would talk to him as I would a person and he would meow back and give me kitty winks. (For those who don’t know it is an expression of love. He makes eye contact, then slowly closes his eyes and opens them again. A very (very) slow blink.)

The place is just so empty and hollow without him.

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Coping With The Loss

I woke up this morning and my first sensation was the emptiness and the realization that my Oliver was gone. I have spent the day trying to cope as best I can. Distraction is the key. I spend my time vacillating between Deprivation and Gluttony. Deprivation because if I feel something uncomfortable it takes my mind off the pain of loss. And Gluttony because it is a distraction and the moment I stop, I remember why I really feel so miserable.

Deprivation includes:

  • Not eating anything regardless of hunger.
  • Feel cold and doing nothing to alter the state of it.
  • Feel tired but ignore the urge to sleep. (as I am doing now)
  • Avoiding the gallery. I have gone in every day (when not at an artshow) for over 4 years. Today is the first day in all those many years that I have not. And tomorrow will be the second.

Gluttony includes:

  • Eating food to fill the void. Mostly this has to be something really desirable or I will prefer to starve.
  • Cyber entertainment. PS2 and web surfing (again as I am doing now)
  • Watching hour upon hour of vapid and shallow tv programming that has no redeaming value. (TV currently providing background noise. Shallow show on is Janice somebody’s modeling agency.) This worked really well all day until that commercial for the aspca came on with the big eyed puppies and kittens. You know the one with that In the Arms of the Angels song playing in the background. Complete emotional breakdown.

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A Tragic Loss

OliverI went into the gallery today and called out to my cat Oliver as I have done for the past 4 years. Today I was greeted with silence. This bothered me because usually he would meow as soon as he hears me jingling the keys.

OliverOliver passed away sometime last night. I am at a total loss. I held him and cried for hours. I railed against the Powers That Be for the senseless cruelty of it all. Somewhere deep inside I hoped he would come back to life. I have never had an animal just die on me. All of my animals have lived very long, very healthy healthy lives. And then at the end, I would struggle with when I should finally end their suffering by taking them to the vet. All of this ritual gave me a chance to say good-bye. A chance to adjust to the loss before it even happens. A chance for closure. Not this time.

OliverYesterday he was healthy and playful and every bit himself. He antagonized Mike and cuddled with me for over an hour before I left for the night. He then ate his supper and used his box and then died. We had 4 years together and I had expected to have 10 more. I have a gaping hole in my life and I can barely tolerate the thought of going into the empty gallery where his ghost will be around every corner. He was my constant companion, always with me in every room. He was a joy and made me laugh every single day. A gift like that will be so very much missed.

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