☆ January 20, 2016
Sunshine left us yesterday. He was fine the night before, standing at the deck with moonlight bouncing off the snow and his broad white nose, his ears perky, watching me. I hauled water for him for the night, filled his dish with pellets, kissed his face. I loved the rituals we’d made since he’d been living in the yard – in the morning, through the day, late at night.
Yesterday morning, when Mike said Sunshine was down, I thought he meant lying down. Not great, but not disaster. I threw on a coat and went outside myself, and saw it was disaster. He was lying down, but his head was on the ground, his neck stretched out, and he was spent. He was trying to get up but he couldn’t. I tried to lift him (I am always in such total denial of the end). I called for Mike and all we could do was pivot him to a more comfortable spot in a pile of straw. Mike left to do cow chores and I sat with Sunshine. He wouldn’t relax and he couldn’t get up. It was devastating to watch. I called my vet to see if horse morphine exists (my denial continues). On the phone, I realized the only right thing would be to have my vet come over with the big syringe. The one that brings the end.
I’m glad it took my vet three hours to arrive – he had prior appointments, his office is 40 minutes away – because I got to sit with Sunshine that whole time, stroking his face in a morning that felt like Spring, warm, breezy, bright. The rest of the animals resting and wandering nearby, the chickens and sparrows chattering. Two mourning doves perched on either side of Sunshine and me, one on a low tree branch and the other on a fence post, surrounding us in their song.
I talked to Sunny and I cried, a lot, and tried to keep him as comfortable as I could, stuffing straw beneath his head when he’d thrash, petting him as he calmed. And I told him how glad I was to know him, how he made me feel so welcome and safe when I moved to Wyoming – I met him just months after I moved here and he and Houdini, his brother, promptly moved into the pasture of my rental house. That was ten years ago. Sunshine would let me jump on his back and lie up there, stretched out, watching the clouds or the stars as he grazed. When I rode Houdini, Sunshine hated being left behind and so he came with us, trotting beside me, head high, ears pricked forward. When Flicka joined the Farmily, Sunshine showed her how to trust, how to let go of the immense fear she carried when she arrived. He was always calm and kind and sweet and generous and now he’s gone and I still don’t understand this part of life, the part where it ends.