Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zevon's Gift

This weekend I was given an incredible and unexpected gift. It was not a gift the giver was totally ready to give but the circumstance was not to be avoided.

It began with a phone call at 8:45 in the morning from a dear friend of mine, an accomplished horse woman who has spent her entire life in the company of horses. There was an edge to her voice that hinted of urgency. “Zevon is colicky and I can’t get a hold of my vet. Can you call yours and see how fast he can get over here?” “Of course,” I replied, already flipping through my day timer.
“Is Richard home this morning”, I inquired, wondering if she was dealing with this by herself. Not that she isn’t competent to deal with the situation; she’s told me dozens of colic stories and helped me out a couple of times with my own horse. “He’s here. He’s out riding horses. He’s not really helping me.” There was that tone again. Her housemate Richard knows as much about horses as Molly, but I thought she might need a girl friend. I told her I would come up for a little while.

On an impulse I threw a tamale in the microwave and took it with me for the short drive to her house. I prayed between bites as I hurried down the country roads. I have never seen a full blown colic before and I was as curious as I was worried.

I have known Zevon for several years. He is a handsome fellow, a tall dark bay gelding with a friendly face. A few years ago he came to my house to babysit my little mare when I was between house mates and Lakota had lost her herd. Horses are herd animals, most prefer not to be alone ~ they are too vulnerable. As Zevon liked the ladies, he took his new assignment in stride. He was a natural born leader and took control of every herd he was in. Zevon had been retired by the time I met him so I never saw him under saddle, but I knew that in their 28 years together, he and Molly had covered many, many miles.

He was laying down in his stall when I got there and Richard, still riding, waved me that direction. Molly, of course, was right there and brought me up to speed. She had talked with her vet and she was on her way now. Molly told me how every thing had appeared fine this morning, but he had deteriorated quickly. Zevon would lie still and then kick his legs and swing his head around to look at his stomach. He would sometimes try to stand up and end up sitting with his front legs straight in front of him like a trick pony, but this was not a show any of us wanted to watch.

The vet arrived and she was marvelous. She told Molly that she was very concerned with the situation, especially as Zevon was not a young horse. She left us with medications and a time line to follow. At one point in the early afternoon it appeared that Zevon had turned the corner. Richard, Molly and I commented over and over how much better he appeared to be feeling. We walked with him, stroked his beautiful neck and gave him sponge baths. But our optimism was short lived and Zevon grew more restless as his pain intensified.

It was time for Molly to make the hardest decision an animal owner ever faces. With tears in her eyes she looked at Richard. Through the years I have heard them discuss this very moment. She always told him, “I am going to have trouble making that call when it’s time. I need you to be honest with me and tell me the truth.” Even though the words strangled her, she squeaked out the question. Richard studied the toe of his boot and nodded. I drifted back and tried to get a grip on my trembling chin; I had no intention of making this harder for my dear friend. The call was made, the vet was on her way and we each paid homage to this marvelous horse, an outstandingly gorgeous being.

As I drove home later that day I thought what a precious gift Zevon and Molly had given me. When it is our time, I hope that Lakota and I have friends holding us up, to ease us through the transition. What a marvelous example they had presented me ~ filled with Love and Grief and Grace and Tears and Tenderness. Such a gift.

* annette

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