SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

May 29, 2015

It's Not About Eventing, It's About Living: For Seema

Always a smile
I repeat often how lucky I feel, to have made friends with & learned from so many wonderful people since getting involved in Adult Riders & volunteering.

One of those people (although she surely counted for at least 3 or 4) was Seema Sonnad.  Those of you involved in eventing are no doubt already aware, but we lost Seema this week.  She suffered a fatal heart arrhythmia during an ultra-marathon in Seattle.

Yes, ULTRA-marathon.  Because Seema was Wonder Woman incarnate in a thousand ways & I think she even ultra-walked out her front door every morning.  It would never even occur to her to be 'regular.'

She would show up to work four 13-hour days at an event after usually having flown across the country from a marathon or conference with about 3 hours of sleep...and I never heard the word "tired" cross her lips. I always joked to her that I felt compelled to take a nap for her!

And she most certainly ultra-gave every ounce of herself to the world around her & changed lives on a regular basis.  Including mine.  So, Seema, I want to say thank you, although those words are so woefully inadequate.

You more than earned this beautiful tribute to your stunning array of achievements from the American Journal of Managed Care, which naturally, you co-edited.

Essential Seema -- at Waredaca
I'll never forget arriving at work one morning & opening my inbox to find your email (I don't even know how you knew my work address), informing me that there was a paid entry to any horse trial I wanted through Event Entries, just waiting for me, as a thanks for volunteering & advocacy.

I burst into tears as I wrote a thank you. It was completely out of the blue, & meant so much to me because I cannot afford to compete on my own, as you knew.

We often refer to such acts as "going out of your way."  But that never applied to you...because it WAS your way, in the most beautiful connotation that "routine" can have.  Such seemingly small things which touch people's lives in an unforgettable manner.  

You perfected what I try (emphasis on try) to live, captured by my favourite poet & author, May Sarton, another amazing woman:

"I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seeds every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind."

It's tempting to say it's the end of an era, or some close cliche.  Nothing could be further from the truth, however.  Because of the blueprint you inspired us to build on, as not just eventers, but as women in science, as givers, as doers, as forces of life, being here, being now:  it's only the beginning.  Or to phrase it better, we've reached the start flags of Phase B & it's time to fly, primed by impossibly comprehensive coaching & warmup that could only have come from a spirit as fierce & gracious & bold & brilliant as this one.


  1. I was never fortunate enough to meet Seema, but reading about her incredible life and all of the people she touched has been a blessing. What an example and an inspiration! What would the world be like if we all tried to be a little like her each day?

  2. It would indeed be a more wonderful place. But it's never too late to start.

    My heart breaks for her husband, I know all too well the horrible grief of untimely loss of your person that you thought you'd get to keep for a long while yet, & though I doubt he is reading horse blogs, should he stumble upon this, Henry, you have all of my empathy. Loving and being loved by a unicorn is an incredible gift; even though we know all things are finite, breathing without them is the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. But even after two years of struggle, I wouldn't give back all the incredible moments I was given, even if it meant not feeling pain. (((((Hugs to Seema's enormous family, blood-related & otherwise)))))

  3. Exactly... Your experience... I have no words. She was that unique and if you don't mind I'm going to link your blog to the one I wrote this morning as another example of wanting to be more like her, humbly...

  4. Of course! Although I wish I could have been a bit more eloquent, my brain is still flipping about & I wanted most of all to share her apparently boundless capacity for living each day for something, so MANY things, bigger than herself. And 'beginning' is not really the right word; more appropriately, it's the next leg of the relay & it's up to us to carry the light forward. Together.

    And above all, to never miss a chance to give back-because I hav found that each of those moments only makes life that much richer for the living.

  5. I only had the pleasure of meeting Seema once, at Red Hills last year. She was there both volunteering at the event and grooming for Caitlin (of course) and she came by because she wanted to buy a browband for Sally Cousins and a bracelet for Caitlin's regular groom. I mean, she had gone THE most generous person I have ever met. And passionate about everything! We briefly chatted, as she walked with me to my car so I could give her a banner for Caitlin, and she asked me about what I had majored in, work, etc. I told her about briefly working at a magazine and being SO annoyed at the fact that there was no in-house style guide and that nobody followed ANY kind of style manual, and of course Seema was passionate about that, too. I believe she was an associate editor for a medical journal (???) and she was similarly frustrated about lack of consistent style (or even proper grammar). I told her I had been editing my dad's cancer research papers since high school, and we had such a nice brief chat about science, editing, writing, etc. I only spent about 20-30 minutes with her, but I was struck by be warmth, generosity, and passion. The world is truly a better place for her having been here.

    It almost seems like she knew she didn't have a lot of time, because she sure managed to cram several lifetimes into her short 52 years. I heard that she'd had radiation for Hodgkin's quite a while ago, and it damaged her heart and lungs. And yet she was running ultra marathons! She was an incredible woman, and I can only hope that her spirit will inspire all of us to be better people.

  6. Please excuse my typos! Ironic, since I was talking about editing, lol. But I am on my phone, whose goal in life is to make me appear illiterate.

  7. Thank you, Karley. And yes, Frizzle, she was passionate about EVERYTHING. We shared another cause aside from volunteering, advocating for more women & diversity in science & research. It's growing slowly and has definitely changed in the 15 years or so I've been in the field, but there's a lot of progress that needs to be made there too.

    There have been several people on the COTH forums who pledged to go out & volunteer at a horse trial to honour the cause (heck, it doesn't even require going out!) -- I hope more of that continues to happen as well.

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you for your compliment; it is nowhere near capturing such a beautiful person, but I know her words would be "go out & make life happen!"