This year has been a roller coaster. The good, the bad, the ugly. Life, and death. Perhaps it’s been a year of balance. We started the year as usual, looking forward to foals coming in the spring, pairing up mares to studs, overall, just looking forward to the foaling season. Our oldest mare Sorcha, my best friend, our first gypsy mare, was progressing with her knee arthritis and struggling with abscesses in the hoof of her healthy leg. Her bloodwork was perfect, her attitude was perfect. She was always eager to see me and would whinny at me for each feeding time. Her eyes were as bright as ever. By the time April came and our first foal, Sorcha was on the highest dosage of the strongest pain meds. This made her feel pretty good for a while. But by the time the last foal arrived in May, even those meds were starting to not give her the best relief. I knew the time was coming. Sorcha, being my best friend, has been talking to me about the inevitable since the year before. She had already told me where she wanted to be buried, that she did not want to be cremated, and that she really wanted me to do the best I could to bring another mare into my heart to be my best friend after she has gone. These conversations with her were difficult for me to listen to without tears, but listen I did as Sorcha had such peace about it and that it was important to her. So, when the day came in May, she was having a difficult time resting her hind legs and she struggled when I picked out her hooves. She told me that day, that it was time. I cried and said no, no it’s not time yet. She told me again, with more resurgence, that it was time. And I knew, 100% I knew, that I could not ignore her plea. So, I made the call. It was out of my hands, Sorcha made the decision and Sorcha, always the alpha mare, always my best friend, knew it was time. So I chose the day as I needed enough time to plan her celebration of life party. Every morning leading up to the big day, she asked me if today was the day. I told her not yet, and she would be sad for a minute. Sorcha was not only ready, she was excited! On thursday, the day before she would cross over, all of her loved ones came and we all helped Sorcha celebrate her awesome life. Sorcha came to me as a 2 yr old filly from Ireland. After 23 years of being the most awesome mare, she made a lot of friends that have become family. The first one was our vet as Sorcha unloaded with a fever. At the time, our vet was completing her internship with our current vet at that time. So, when our vet got out of her truck and walked up to Sorcha, myself, Kim, and a few friends in the pasture surrounded by Sorcha’s herd, our vet started crying too. We chatted, we reminisced with Sorcha, and gave my vet the time she needed to say goodbye. When she was ready, she asked if I was ready. I dont remember much once Sorcha started to get sleepy from the sedation. I remember hearing my vet talk to me, but it sounded like she was far away. I remember that I couldnt see, as if I were in the dark. Then I remember seeing the blue sky. I ‘woke up’ with my body draped over Sorcha’s body, staring into the sky weeping. My friends, including my vet, were near me, waiting for me patiently. I sat up, grabbed my vets hand that was near mine on Sorcha’s side, and I was at peace. We all started reminiscing Sorcha’s life, and WillowWind in general. Grief for Sorcha has been difficult. The waves would literally knock me down and out for days at a time. The waves started getting smaller 3 months later. The veil of grief is getting thinner with each month that has gone by. A month after Sorcha passed, I felt the need to start working with Kaytlyn, the yearling filly. Sorcha had told me that she would become my new best friend. I took Kaytlyn to a show and I learned that Sorcha was right.

Today, looking back on a year that was devastating to me, I can pull positive things out of the negative. I still feel Sorcha with me, not just a little bit, but a lot. I hear her talking to me, to her daughter Ana, and to Kaytlyn while I work with them. I am looking forward to the foals coming and the breeding of mares. I am looking forward to the future. This is easy for me to do now because she is still with me. She is still with her mares, and I’m sure she will be there giving the stallions breeding the mares lessons of how to behave. Life is a river, it starts as rain that flows into a river, the river flows to a lake, then a great lake (we live in Michigan), then to the ocean. The water in the ocean evaporates and becomes the rain that flows to the river again. H20 never changes you see. We never change. We may look different, but essentially, we are the same. Life is a circle. We are born, we live, we grow old, we die, we are recreated. This year, was a year for me to understand this balance and to become a part of it.

I wanted to share my story with the hope that it may help someone else going through difficult decisions or grief, or maybe even a big change in life. Here is to the hope for a happy and bright new year. May we all feel the joys of life. May we all understand and have peace with the call that nature continually sends our way. May we all never lose the hope of a bright future.

If you lose your hope, please reach out to me. You are never alone.

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