I see her in the mountains.
I see her in every saguaro and palo verde and creosote bush.
I feel her in every breath of wind and in the sun on my face.
I hear her charging across the sky.
I look all around me and she is there, breathing life into my aching heart.
With every breath I take I miss my little girl.
And to be honest with you as I always try to be… part of me has wanted to quit all of this.
Run away so I could never feel this pain again. Choose another career that would never break me so intensely. Find another place to work that would never subject me to the cruelty of losing a beautiful, wild, happy, spirited angel with her whole life ahead of her to the horrors of laminitis.
But when I’m at my weakest I look around me and see Chianti peeking over her stall bars, hoping I’ll sneak her a treat or two.
I see Studley give a happy little nicker when he sees someone walking towards him with a halter.
I see my brother Chance, his eyes such a unique shade of light gold, looking at me with such understanding.
I see Sedona sneak a bite of alfalfa out of a passing food cart then try his best to look innocent.
I see Rain – an acute laminitis survivor – walk back in forth with such ease and contentment.
I see Guess happily splash the water out of her tub onto her chest (and part of Bella’s face) and on the ground.
I see Rusty standing patiently while some of our younger volunteers hang off of him.
I see Iron Man, dark coat shimmering in the sunlight, toss his magnificent head.
They still stand.
They still face tomorrow.
And just as I realized when I was 17 and meeting these horses for the first time, if they can live on despite all forces that tried to bring them down… so can I.
I meant to write about my last day with Sonora and how it mirrored our first. I meant to write about what she gave to our ranch and how she was so loved and how lucky we all were to get to love on her one last time.
I still can’t. Maybe someday.
For now, we all still recover. Because as selfish as I am for writing about *my* heartbreak, Nora was a part of everyone here.
She belonged to no one. She was untamed and free-willed and fiercely independent right till the end. But she gave everyone here her heart. Willingly and trustingly.
And she took a piece of each of us with her to the Great Herd last Thursday.
We are all – as always – forever grateful to each of you for your support. I write such a raw post in the hopes that it offers some insight into the reality of the horse rescue and sanctuary world. I write so that you may understand how powerful your place is in our battle.
Sometimes we get our hearts ripped out and torn apart. We face terror and doubt and devastation. We stand on the edge of the abyss. Sometimes we fall.
But with you at our backs, we also rise.
And we keep going.
“The weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm.” ~ Joseph Marshall