Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Last Horsey Hug

Last night I went to the barn to bring in the horses. Gil and Tucker came in as usual,but Cosmo did not come to the gate. Instead, he stood in the paddock with his head hanging a bit, his sheepish expression telling what I needed to know. My hand covered my mouth almost of its own volition. Tears blurred my vision.

I trudged across the mud and clipped the leadshank to his halter. He placed his long head against my chest, something he typically does to garner some ear-stroking. I call it a hug.

As my fingers careesed the copper fur, he sighed. It was time.

I turned toward the barn, he stumbled as his left hind leg buckled a bit. He dragged it a few inches before he was able to lift it and take a proper step. Together, we shuffled toward his waiting stall.

"Can you hang on until Thursday?" I asked him as he munched his grain. He didn't answer my selfish request. I had to go to New York for an appointment, I wouldn't be able to arrange all the details to relieve his pain the next day.

But this morning. Cosmo would not leave the barn. He shuffled out of his stall to the barn door, but would go no farther. I wanted to scream, to change my plans, call Mr.W.'s mother and tell her to go to our appointment with the party rental company without me. I wanted to forget about wedding plans, have a good cry and lead my horse on his final journey. But I couldn't. I had to go to New York and he couldn't wait.

So while I was choosing table linens, wine glasses, china, chairs, and serving plates, my good doober was taking one last walk. Without me.

Maybe, in some way, that was what Cosmo wanted. Maybe, like my sister says, he saved me, by some spiritual transferrence, from another bought of melanoma. Maybe, the tumors that grew so furiously through his body were meant for me and he, sweet and kind soul that he was, suffered them without complaint. Or, maybe it was all just some strangely cruel twist of fate or life, devoid of higher purpose or divine reason. He simply contrated the same disease as his owner. There are no easy answers.

Tonight, I cherish the good things, the head hugs, his groans of enjoyment during a good roll in the snow, his contented form basking in the sun. I will remember how he wobbled down the road like a drunken sailor, half-turned toward the barn, then suddenly trotting ahead to see what waited around the next curve. I don't think there is another horse that can travel forward while craning his neck around to look back, but Cosmo could. He'd clumsily walk into you, then lower his head in shame when you yelled at him for crushing your toes. He'd whinny and trot circles in his stall if left alone, requiring a bath for simply "standing" in his stall. He'd turn himself inside out to avoid walking through a puddle, then when you were ready to pull out your hair, he'd calmly splash through the offending water, as if saying, "Oh. You wanted me to go through that? Why didn't you say so?"

Above all, I will remember his gentleness. I will miss the happy sparkle in his eyes, his big blaze hanging over the stall door, the way he would, at every opportunity push the stall door with his nose to stand in the opening.

Most of all, the gentle press of his head against my body, his warm breath against my stomach, and the fragrant softness of his forelock against my cheek. Nobody gave horsey hugs like Cosmo.

Goodbye my good doober, my "blonde" boy, "Meemo", "Mo". Thank you for everything my Cosmo.


  1. May we all be remembered as lovingly as Cosmo. You often said he did everything you asked. He even told you when it was time to say good-bye.

  2. So, so sorry, Nancie. Not much is harder than saying goodbye to such a friend. I'm sure he's got his nose to the lush grass of those Elysian fields, that the sun is warming his back while the soft breeze lifts his mane, and that he is filled with sweet thoughts of you.