Recently my youngest daughter, Mollie, lost a beloved horse of hers. And even though this wasn’t the first time she’d experienced loss, it happened to the horse we least expected.
Beloved Horse MJ Passes
Unfortunately for reasons we still do not understand MJ passed away in the middle of the night. This beautiful horse that Mollie bought, trained and had high hopes for was suddenly gone.
She was planning on showing MJ this next season to build the horse’s resume and hopefully launch her career as a horse trainer.
We believe MJ’s passing was from a brain or heart aneurysm, but questions go unanswered as time passes by. MJ was only three years old and was a beautiful sorrel quarter horse. She had been trained to show ranch and cow Penning and had the bloodlines to back it!
A Sad Saturday Morning
It was a Saturday morning, and we were all arriving at the farm ready to feed before our Equine Therapy program began. MJ, short for Mary Jane, was a horse that preferred to rest her legs by laying down at night. My daughter didn’t think a whole lot of it when she walked by and saw her lying still but as they began to dump grain and other horses started moving around, it was clear that MJ was more than just “sleeping in”.
The panic in my daughter’s voice as she shouted “Mom! MJ is dead” will forever be imprinted on my memory.
Immediately rushing over to the stall in total unbelief to see a three-year-old laying there who was alive and well just the day before…
So much can change in a blink of an eye.
There was no sign of struggle in her stall, her horse blanket was without any shavings on it, we knew she literally had laid down and died in her sleep. What came after that, as a mother, was so hard to watch.
My daughter walked into the stall and held her beloved horse’s head as she cried harder than I had ever seen her cry in 20-years of life. A cry that didn’t just last for a few minutes but for hours.
However, the horsewoman inside of her, though shattered inside, wiped her tears and proceeded to organize the removal of the horse from the stall and take her to a burial site a few hours away.
Putting on a Brave Face
For several days My daughter put on a brave face but being at the barn all day and the emptiness of her horse’s stall was more than she could bear.
The sum of this grief may seem strange for an animal, but for those of us who love our horses (or any animal for that matter) can understand the magnitude of this kind of loss.
I’m no stranger to grief, losing my grandparents of course, also my dad at the age of 65, my sister at the age of 45, and my oldest born child, Emilie, at the age of 24. The grief that went with those losses far outweighs the grief of a pet but at that moment it does not feel like it.
This past year we had to put to sleep our first family dog, DeeDee, she had a stroke and was left paralyzed, Doggy hospice came to the house, and I was able to hold her with her doggy brothers and sisters around her while she breathed her last breath.
Choosing to Love
I knew that ache my daughter felt in her heart and yet there was nothing I could do for her. That’s when my husband said no more animals, we’ve had over the years more horses than I can count and had to say goodbye so many times.
In his opinion, if we didn’t have any of these animals, we wouldn’t have this heartache.
That’s where the question comes in “is it better to have loved and lost, or never have loved at all?”
Our animals bring us such joy, comfort, and unconditional love that I can’t imagine not having them in my life.
So, the answer to that question for me is “oh yes!” I would much rather love something and lose it than never have had the opportunity to love it at all.
God Is Close to the Broken-Hearted
Believing with all my heart our animals are in heaven, I know I will see them again someday.
I just don’t think God would make Heaven and then exclude innocent souls that all of us love so dearly here on earth.
MJ‘s memory will never be gone, she left quite the imprint on so many hearts and taught my daughter enormous life lessons.
I look at her sometimes and can tell the wounds are still very raw.
Yeah, she understands life goes on, but I can almost guarantee she would have much rather loved and grieved MJ than never to have never loved MJ at all.