A Soul full of Broken Glass

 photo IMG_7840.jpg This is a very hard post to write.

I am out of practice firstly, I haven’t written in a while. I couldn’t write, even though I sat in front of my computer often, staring at the screen and trying to dig inside myself to cement some words to paper. I failed, constantly.

Because I have a soul full of broken glass and it hurts.

The explanation for this is simple. My horse died. It wasn’t expected, it wasn’t calmly and it certainly wasn’t pretty. My life was torn apart in a matter of forty eight hours by a situation that was unavoidable. Death was a mercy certainly, a sentence pronounced by myself.

But it wasn’t what I had wanted for him and it certainly wasn’t what I could deal with right now.

But, that is the nature of life. Of trials and challenges. We are never prepared for anything. We think we are, but we’re not. The morning I went to say good bye to him, my riding companions had joined me. It was early, before work and we had stood there in a group around him. The others had been crying, but tried to comfort me. I hadn’t cried, simply stood there and held them.

“It’s okay,” I had told my friend as we hugged. “It’s okay.” Behind us, my horse had stood twitching, his muscles convulsing at the point of seizure. He was affected by a virus that caused West Nile Disease. And, it’s really not very common in South Africa. A vaccine had only come available a year or two ago and we had not thought that the disease was in our area. Yet, we were wrong. And, it was a costly  mistake.

The disease is a disaster, affecting the horse’s nervous system, destroying it – leading to seizures, disorientation and convulsions. It came upon us suddenly. I was called the Monday evening but a slightly hysterical and freaked out stable yard manager.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she told me as she described how my horse had broken out of his stable, out of the camp in front of it and ended up in her back garden. “I tried to hold him but I couldn’t. He wouldn’t calm down, couldn’t stand still. I tried to hold him but I couldn’t.”

Which was understandable, he weighs 400kgs, nearly half a ton. One can hardly keep control of a 80kg man having a seizure, keeping control of a horse that is constantly falling around, thrashing and throwing himself at walls, is impossible. I went there, looked at him. Called the vet. But I knew that it was a problem.

He settled for most of the day, giving us a sense of false hope. Maybe it had been a fit, maybe it had been a one occurrence. Maybe I wouldn’t have to kill him before he either killed himself or someone else.

It wasn’t to be of course, it wouldn’t be because that is not how these things worked. He had another episode that evening and for all their attempts to keep him safe, he ended up in an area of the yard were they kept scrap metal. He broke into that area, fell down there, and tore himself to shreds. I rushed over when they called me again but even as I was driving I told the owner of the yard to call the vet.

It was over, I knew it was.

Death was a mercy and the last act of love that I could give to him.

And, as I told my friends, it was okay. I could accept it. I could accept that there was no other option. But it doesn’t take the hurt away, it doesn’t take the sense away that I will never be complete again.

You see, I know that it’s just an animal. But Sebastian had been special, from the beginning, he had been mine. I am a very strong T on the Meyers and Briggs scale and live a full INTJ life. But, in my horses, in this horse, my Feeling side had resided. My emotions and my security. Horses had always given me something that humans somehow never could. It’s not something that can be put to words. It’s just something that has always been. Even my partner had remarked a couple of times that I would never be made to choose between my horses and my relationship because it was a battle that no person could win. Does it make me defective? Probably, but I am in a fortunate position to have an Other Half that doesn’t care about it and loves me anyway.

I know there will be other horses. I still have one, a young gelding I put under the saddle myself that I had thought I was raising for a friend of mine. I had never thought that he would be a replacement. And he can’t be. No other horse will be. My friend who lost her golden stallion a couple of years ago sat with me over the weekend and said quietly that it never stops. The hurt and the longing to have that one last ride on that special horse. That one that took one’s soul and broke it upon death. You just learn to make the pain a part of yourself, a part of the pleasure of riding. She’s had had almost four horses since Rico’s death and none of them had matched his place in her heart.

It is a bitter pill to swallow and so ironic that I had waited a whole year for him to recover from his injured leg only to have him ripped away from me in such a manner.

So, I have a soul full of broken glass. I have a soul that is constantly cutting me, a well of emotions that slices through me every time I try to feel anything. I am mourning, I know that. And, I will give myself time to do so. The only good thing about the pain is that it means that Basjan really meant something.

That he was important in a reality I’m constantly trying to escape through gaming and writing.

That he was real.

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Brief Light

Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

My partner’s father died last night and somehow, I have found myself thinking of this poem that I had last read in its totality when I was still in High school. It speaks of Macbeth’s indifference towards his wife’s death – someone whom he was so close to in the beginning of Shakespeare’s play. Although it does not reflect on my partner, who feels the death very acutely, it reflects on death, and how brief life is in the grand scheme of things. How, like a candle, death can come quickly, blowing out a candle before it’s time, or run the full course of life, burning the candle to the ground. My heart aches for my other half, swept away now in a torrent of pain and personal loss. The death of this man not only reminded me of my own mortality, but more viscerally, the mortality of my own parents. I had almost lost my mother in 2008, when she was struck down (in the literary sense) by a disease called Guillian-Barre Syndrome, and I had then found myself trying to imagine what life would be without her. The place where I went to in my mind was a bleak world, with no security or comfort.
It hurts me to think that my partner is one step closer to that desolate loss, standing at the edge of it and looking out at a world that none of us had seen coming.

That our parents die before us is inevitable, a cruel fact of nature because our physical bodies are not immortal.
Yet, it is bitter and terrible.