A week or so ago, one of my Middle Tennessee eventer friends, Julie, unexpectedly lost one of her beloved senior horses, Gipper, to colic. Although she got him safely to the vet hospital and they did everything they could, he eventually went past the point of hope for a positive recovery and Julie made the choice to let him go.
Yesterday, she found a package on her doorstep with a return address from the emergency vet hospital where Gipper had died. When she opened it, she found a memorial gift to Gipper they had made for her: a shadowbox containing his shoes and a gently braided lock of his mane. She was incredibly surprised and touched by this very caring act. When I heard about this, it brought tears to my eyes to think about how thoughtful and considerate those vets and their techs are to do this. Imagining them carefully pulling his shoes and clipping and braiding his mane, then arranging those pieces sweetly in the shadowbox for Julie, reaffirms the fact that there are people out there who do truly care about all aspects of horse care and horse ownership and those of us who have devoted our lives to our animals. Julie has been slowly moving on after losing Gipper, but I know she is further healed after receiving that gift. Having a part of him always with her in a physical sense will continue to keep him with her in a spiritual sense, as well.
It's just over 3 years since I lost Reece suddenly to colic/a ruptured intestine. He died early one morning in my barn, so I had no one else involved and there was no time to get him to a vet hospital. I found him down and then -- literally moments later -- he just died. I was so shocked and frantic that it was all I could do to put my brain and body on autopilot, call in to work and tell them I wasn't coming in, and then see that my neighbor got Reece buried on the back of my farm. Everything happened so fast and yet seemed like it took forever, but when it was all over -- and the shock wore off -- I finally cried and cried and cried (and, I still cry over losing him to this day) and at last I started to grieve. I never got a piece of his mane or tail and I didn't even remove his fly mask before they buried him. I just wanted it over with as quickly as possible. Now, all this time later I wish I had something of Reece to keep and hold on to, but I don't and I believe that sort of has been a hang up in my sorrow over his death. I think the shadowbox is a wonderful thing to do for an owner who has lost a horse and it surely must help to put to rest some of the sadness. I am so happy for Julie that she is lucky enough to have a vet that really understands what it is to love and let go.