I hear “one day at a time”, “one minute at a time” and “keep putting one foot in front of the other” very often. It’s one of those obnoxiously cliche things to say that is both annoying to hear but also extremely accurate. With something like this, sometimes it really is the only way to go forward.
For me, the saying has morphed into something more like “stride by stride.” All my life I’ve been very conscious that I’m the person responsible for giving my animals a peaceful ending, but I always thought that decision would be based off of purely physical signs instead of mental ones. Is she eating? Is she getting around okay? Can she control her bowels? With BT, it was evaluating a quality of life using an entirely different measurements than I was prepared for. The bomb of knowledge from my vet happened so fast, that when I came home seven days later without a dog… I fell apart.
I was hoping after it was done I’d feel a sense of peace and doing the right thing, but instead all I felt was guilt and confusion. Laying out all the facts in a logical matter told me that I made a good decision for her welfare. Emotionally I was all over the place and wishing I could have had some help from Tim making the decision with his dog. Knowing him, he would have thought it was too soon. That doesn’t say it was or wasn’t, but I wish I didn’t have these clouds of “too early” around.
After a lot of moping and crying, I drug myself to the barn early Saturday evening. When I walked up to Simon’s pasture, he whinnied and trotted to me across the field – a first. We had a quiet, relaxed ride which included our first day of cantering. The minute I swung up in the saddle, I felt immediately better. Simon’s swinging, happy walk to the field felt like home. Having to balance him in left turns so he didn’t fall in was comfortably familiar. His right lead canter felt like it had the potential to be amazing, and to the left he was just as heavy and gross as I expected. It was nice to know what to expect out of life for a change.
These days my horse is less my athletic partner, and more of my friend. When the barn is quiet, I will put my arms around his neck or lay my head on his thick shoulder to feel his horseyness. This time of year his coat is thin and slick, like fabric stretched over his warm muscles. Simon feels sturdy and dependable when I lean against him. He makes a very good friend.
The world is a sad place for me right now, and some days I have difficulty navigating it. When one foot in front of the other gets too difficult, it’s good to know I can hop on Simon and let him go forward for me awhile.