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We Are Flying Solo

January 23, 2014

On Love, Loss, Survival, And Sharing

No such thing as too much Cuna-love
I'm tired.  And I get all weird and philosophical when I am tired.  So consider yourself warned. 

This time of year, it would take about three or four of me to do my job, so at some point, my brain switches off for a while and wanders off on its own.  My heart has been with Aimee as she grieves for her premature goodbye to the amazing Cuna-fish.  I know we are all grieving with her.  I have also been glad that she found Courage (and kept his prescient name); from the first time she emailed me his picture, I knew he would be his own kind of special.

It was magical watching the two of them somewhat reluctantly discover each other and then, as they cautiously began to lean on each other, take off on a fantastic trajectory.  I know I said it many times to Aimee, but it always made me giggle, because she had found her Solo, that red horse with an enormous heart and an opinion to match who changed my life forever too.

But physics and life demand that for every meteoric rise, every explosion of love, there must also be a fall back to earth.  Joy by definition cannot exist without its polar opposite, sorrow.  Sometimes we all wonder if having and adoring these incredible partners is equivalent to signing a contract for heartbreak.  I certainly did on that fateful day in 2011 when I realized Solo's journey to our 3DE was over.  

I suppose in a way it is a non-negotiable bargain, but at the same time, your heart cannot be broken by something unless you love it so much that it is a part of you.  Almost three years ago (which is hard to believe), I had to say the same goodbye to my beloved Smokey-dog.  She was not in constant pain, but I knew that her old body was worn out and it was only a matter of time before she injured herself, so I made the decision to spare her that frustration and loss of dignity.  Dr. Bob, well-known to Solo and Encore, helped me let her go; even though he assured me that I was giving her a great blessing and that she led a wonderful life, it didn't make it any easier.

We both climbed Table Rock when she was 15!
It still brings a lump to my throat, thinking of that day, of driving home alone with breathless sobs because all I could think was how  much she hated being left behind.  For months afterwards, I would catch myself listening for the jingle of her collar or I would almost see a glimpse of her around the hallway corner before I remembered she was gone.

But she visited me in dreams; she was warm and happy and I got to hug her in a furry silence filled with love and peace.  And the gifts and lessons and memories she gave me during her life are still carried in my heart every day. 

Thinking of losing Solo terrifies me, although I know that it is inevitable since the damn creatures won't agree to outlive us, selfish beasts that they are.  At the same time, the idea of never having met him just makes me feel...empty.  Imagining the last 7 years of my life without all of the places and adventures we shared, even the arguments, compromises, and the disappointments (ok, maybe we could have skipped a FEW of those) along the way -- how much poorer a life that would have been.  The doors that he opened, the confidence he gave me, the lessons he taught:  Solo didn't just make me a better rider, he made me a better person.

I will always miss them both.
Some of you know that my life mantra is "Nothing lasts forever."  And it has gotten me through many seemingly impossible times.  I unexpectedly lost the person who made Solo a part of my life, but I am still here. 

It applies to good things too, as even the most perfect of moments, loves, and partners are only ours for a while.  Nonetheless, I have learned to hold each of them as a treasure, no matter how fleeting, and I would not voluntarily give up any one of them to spare myself the grief.  Because that doesn't last forever either. 

So I try to collect that love and then pass it forward, because in a funny, completely unscientific way, sharing love does not reduce it, but rather multiplies it.

I will let one of my favourite poets sum up my own rambling attempts:

I would like to believe that 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.     -May Sarton


  1. Mark Rashid calls it the Price of the Ticket. It is the cost of love. It is always better than not having loved.

  2. I''m im tears. That was a beautiful post.

  3. Oh, The Price Of The Ticket. What a somewhat harsh but so accurate and fittingly poignant turn of phrase. I like that. It takes a brave and generous soul to love again - I like to think that those who share their soul with animals have turned that into an art.

  4. SB, I completely agree. I hope you are not offended -- it was intended in empathy.

  5. oh so true...I hate thinking about these things...but sometimes its hard not to.

  6. Beautiful post. Every precious, and oh too short, life we love makes us better people. And hopefully we have made those lives better too, and will bless many more lives because we keep on loving. It is a bitter-sweet love, indeed.

  7. I had to leave my desk and escape to the bathroom to hide the tears here at work. They take a piece of our hearts with them when they go. I feel so lucky to have had the love of every animal I've had, they give such a great gift to us with their love. I wish it didn't hurt SO much to lose them.

  8. Life is certainly a collection of moments, which is why it is wise to live in them, as animals do.

    Lovely post.

  9. Oh, yes, yes to everything. I am one week out from having to PTS my little Barney, my best buddy guinea pig. The anticipation was indeed worse, but doing without him now sure hurts.

    I take the time to treasure and appreciate every day with my dog, the heart animal of my lifetime so far. She's turning 11 next month and I can only hope and pray she blesses me with her presence for years to come. But even if I lost her tomorrow, I wouldn't trade one second of the time we've had.

    This is an old one, but I totally believe it: "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

  10. Awww, RW, I'm sorry about your piggie!

    My big ol' Smokey was 17 and was never sick a day in her life. She was shiny and healthy and wonderful -- but her hips were completely shot and sometimes she would randomly fall down or not be able to get up on a smooth floor. I have concrete front steps which she had already fallen down several times, so I didn't want her to get hurt!

    But I do still miss her and to this day have no desire to own a non-Smokey dog, although I looooove to play with the farm dogs.

    Whitney, sorry I ran you off! It does hurt horribly; I always wondered why we couldn't just have one good thing that doesn't have a price. It would be awesome if pets were that thing.

    Well, I guess we do have hot chocolate, which is a dear friend right now!!!

  11. What a beautifully written post. Well done for writing it.