Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Looking Away For The Return Of Innocence

We bound both his feet and tucked his front legs as close to his belly as we could and using two long ropes tried to roll him over so he was not facing uphill. He would raise himself only to fall back under his own weight. Being blind in one eye, he turned his head to look at me when I spoke to him. Alert but weak.
The night before, he had fallen and literally slid down this hill about fifty feet to the edge of a large pond, which is where we found him at 6 a.m this morning, in the dark, after a prolonged search. At first, upon spotting him, we thought he had died, but he pulled his head up as we approached as if to try and see who it was, and it would happen, his one good eye was facing the ground. He was given a injection with a mild pain killer and after several attempts taking over three hours, he got back on his feet and while unsteady, my daughter led him back into his corral where food and water awaiting him. He was hungry and drank and his rear quarters were somewhat shaking. All of this occurred after we had found him in his stall, wedged into a corner, his legs to stiff to maneuver his way out and the Vet was called. An all night vigil with injections through the night gave us the impression he had turned a corner and now this. .
I stood at the top of the hill , chain smoking, and all this was sinking in as if the space I had occupied had vanished, and was thinking of Joni Mitchells lyric, "I was I had a river I could skate away on". All of us agreed he wanted to live, and the Vet was so impressed as we were, that despite his ailments of age, he was not in pain and had, as always what we would call " a sweet disposition"
Life in of itself is a miracle.
I knew that this situation was not about our feelings but our aged patient, Applejack, the lesson horse for children. As I write this my heart is welling up, I feel this in whatever, whomever I think my self to be.
I was going to stay and work on a truck but it was just too cold to be practical and we had to prepare for another all night vigil to watch over him while he seemed fairly active, all of us knew it could happen again.
I had to go to take care of our other "critters". As I left, I was hoping against hope he would improve, and a positive approach in his care was vital. All of this cost money, and none of gave a damn about money.
I was home for about an hour and my wife called. He had fallen again and the vet was again summoned as his legs gave out again. There was no other choice in terms of compassion but to put him to sleep and so now he lays out in his field, a tarp covering him as a truck was summoned in order to bury him. I could not bear to see him taken. To see him go. Not one more death, not one more parting or so we say. And as I age, this becomes more felt, as life itself as a gift becomes a deeper cup to drink from.
My son, before he passed away, in his illness simply asked that I not forget him. That river I could skate away on I see off in the distance glimmering, shrouded and leading in my mind where we all roam free. Perhaps I am pulled toward the past in this.
I suppose there are worse delusions. You drink to empty the cup to be refilled.
Homeward bound through the fog seeking the return of  lost innocence. Hoping to be surprised when somehow I feel in my bones, I know as Thomas Wolfe opined, you can't go home again. It will never be the same way twice, even as I blink my eyes.
A hail and farewell to a good companion. Look away if you can.


  1. A thoughtful and beautiful blog post (as always!) Bruce-
    It brought tears to my eyes. I have always wanted to read "Look Homeward Angel"!
    My father is quite ill- has been for over 2 years now-he thinks he messed up with my brother and me. But as the years have gone by I have been continually amazed at how 'good' he turned out (he had to deal with some pretty bad child abuse growing up) and also at his strength and ability to love. If he goes before I do, I dont think he realizes how much he means to me.
    thanks again!
    ps you have awesome taste in music!

  2. I'm sorry for your family's loss Bruce.

  3. Devin
    I empathise with both you and your father as well as your family. In the aftermath of losing Applejack we were all physically drained from such an emotional roller coaster ride, which, in hindsight, was inevitable. Theres always hope against hope. I am not one to give any advice, but having lost my own father, I would share your feelings with him for his sake as well as your own. Sometimes it's easier to give advice than to take it. I am no paragon of always doing the right thing, which has given me more cause for remorse in regard to unresolved, unexpressed feelings or even miscommunication. Thats something we all share.