We lost a friend. Aimee was only 14 years old. She was vibrant and full of life and character.
18 days ago we left for Mexico to visit long-time friends and participate in a community outreach. I left the care of the animals with a trusted friend. Aimee had colicked in the past. Actually she had colicked about once a year for the past several years. It was never severe though and she had always recovered pretty quickly.
I got a text from my friend that Aimee was down. The next door neighbor was there and helping her too. They called the vet and got her medicine right away. My phone service wasn’t working in Mexico so we were just exchanging messages. Although they had told me she was colicking, I fully expected her to be just fine. I felt badly that our friends and neighbors were stuck with the mess. I was a little upset. Other than that though, I was not overly concerned. She had always been fine before, so why should this time be any different? I didn’t realize they hadn’t been able to get her up.
The vet wanted to speak with me, so I borrowed a friend’s phone and called him. “She’s gonna be alright, right Doc?” I asked in my usual chipper voice. I was totally unprepared for what he said next. “I’m afraid not.” His gentle words caught me off guard and hit me like a punch in the throat. “What?!” I was suddenly reeling. I remember only pieces of the conversation from there. “I’ve given her everything I can and nothing will touch her pain.” “I can’t stand to sit here and watch her suffer like this.” I remember him using the word, “torsion,” and then saying something like, “We really need to put her down.” “Well okay…” I managed to stammer. Our trusted vet had been taking care of Aimee for the past 12 years. I knew that if he said that putting her down was in her best interest, that was most certainly the right thing to do. I was in shock though. I just couldn’t believe it.
“Would you mind to speak with my husband?” I suddenly blurted out. I shoved the phone at my man, who was thankfully standing nearby, and then fled, completely melting down. I was useless for the rest of the night. I don’t know when I’ve ever felt that helpless. My horse was dying and there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t even be there for her. I couldn’t even tell her goodbye.
The hubs was able to talk with the neighbors and our friends. I cannot even begin to tell you everything they did for us. We were too far away. It takes some 36 hours to get home, several hours of driving and flying, and that’s if you already have airline tickets booked and everything goes well. Both of our next door neighbors and at least two of our dear friends stayed with Aimee through everything, carrying her buckets of water to cool her off and giving her wonderful care. After we spoke with the vet and he gave her the injection to put her to sleep, they stayed with her then too, talking with her and gently holding their hands on her. They told me she fell asleep peacefully.
The one next door neighbor somehow managed to get a hold of an excavator and buried her the next morning. Smoke had been by her side the whole time too, apparently standing guard over her body all that night and remaining there up until the very last. When they began to actually cover the grave however, he apparently just about lost it. Aimee had been his very best friend. He was completely anguished.
“Is there anything special I need to do for Smoke or Daisy?” my dear friend asked. I was so worried about Smoke. I knew he must be overcome with grief. I was so grateful for her sensitivity. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind to just sit a little while with Smoke and tell him that she knew; that she was sorry for his loss. I was worried that he might stop eating for a while, or worse yet, stop drinking water. It had been about 100 degrees outside and the heat was the vet’s prime suspect in Aimee’s case of colic. He was suspicious she had heat stroked and then colicked, or maybe the other way around. (They had a shaded shelter and plenty of trees, but I guess if you’re a horse and you don’t feel good you may just collapse in the sun anyway.) So, my friend sat with him. She shared his grief and helped carry his sorrow.
Thanks to her, Smoke did drink water. He is now recovering and becoming closer friends with Daisy, the little white mini. I have noticed that he seems to enjoy hanging out by the chicken coop. Probably watching the antics of the chickens and the ducks and geese has given him something else to think about. They are pretty entertaining. Lots of people, myself included, have also found that watching chickens helps bring healing to the soul.
The next several days after Aimee died and before we got home were very difficult for me. I felt horribly guilty. I was convinced this whole thing was somehow all my fault. I began to think up everything I could have possibly done wrong. I had wormed them right before we left, and I had decided that somehow had something to do with it. Later when we got back and I spoke again with my vet he assured me that had nothing to do with it. At the time though, I was overcome with unspeakable guilt on top of sadness.
During the remainder of our time in Mexico, which was chock-full of things to do, I was able to occupy my mind with the tasks at hand for the most part. Actually the time there was beautiful. This spot is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I so love the people there. For those of you who were in the group with us, and those of my dear friends in Mexico, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness. “We are here for you. We want to help you. You can cry on our shoulders. Please let us pray for you.” Those words brought healing to my soul and meant so much to me. Thank you for your hugs and concern. To the dear lady that went into town to get me the most amazing iced mocha coffee and brought it back with a hug and kind words of condolence, wow. I was encouraged. Who doesn’t love coffee and chocolate anyway?! I could feel my spirits lifting and my eyes brightening.
To all our friends and neighbors who were there for Aimee and did everything they could to help her, thank you. Thank you for everything you did to help us in our time of need. Thank you too to the best large animal vet ever. I so appreciate everything you’ve done all throughout the years for us. Thank you for being there for Aimee that day.
My dear friend even washed Aimee’s pajamas for me. She folded them up and placed them lovingly on a chair in the tack room. I still haven’t been able to pick them up yet.
Aimee was a great horse and a wonderful friend. Life won’t be the same around here without her. She left hoof prints on our hearts and hoof beats in our memories forever. You will be missed Aimee.
I'm Debbie. I love listening to chickens cackle and sing. I love Lindt chocolate truffles, a good cup of coffee, and a good book.