Sunday, August 29, 2010


A Bed of Roses

Note: Last Sunday, this blog was created to tell you of Laddee's crossing. But then the letter from Dr. Anne was received. And her words touched me so deeply that I replaced my original blog with Dr. Anne's message. So this, my friends, is my original blog. There are things in this blog I feel you must know. So please bear with me as I speak to you of Laddee, the Little Belgian Mare just one more time . . .

Laddee, the Little Belgian Mare fulfilled her destiny during the pre-dawn hours of Friday, August 20th. Laddee allowed her spirit to move on and left her body to die. And she did this in her own way.

Without any of those who loved her surrounding her, in the quiet of the night, Laddee crossed when no one was there to sing to her. No one was there to plead with her to stay. A technician was with her to insure her airway was open but those who had supported her and sustained her in these past months were not there with her. Laddee crossed when no one was there to try to save her. Laddee crossed in her own way.

The day was spent sitting with her and telling the stories of her. Laughing at how she would drag me around. Laughing at how she refused to cooperate those first few months. Sad that her anger and striking had been necessary behaviors she had needed to learn in order to survive. And then laughing once again at how spoiled and demanding of love she had become. How she had truly and completely become "The Princess". Laddee helped us heal the wound of her loss by giving us stories of her to tell. She healed us, that mare, in her own way.

When everyone was busy with the business of the day, I spent quiet time with her. I uncovered her and cleaned her. I wiped her with damp towels and brushed every inch of her that I could reach. I washed her face and cleaned her mouth and her ears. I removed the tape from her neck and used a fresh towel to close her airway. I prepared her for her journey as best I could. Singing to her and doing my best to be strong for her.

When her body was prepared, I stood by her and looked at her. So peaceful. So shiny. So blonde and soft coated. So majestic and proud. So dignified and so very beautiful. It was then that I realized that her radio was not on. So I turned on her fan and her radio. The silence from the radio made me think that I needed to adjust the tuning but then . . . the guitar chords of a song began. A song I did not recognize. A country song by a "Band Perry". So I stood by M'Laddee and listened to the words . . .

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my color
Go with peace and love and gather up your tears
Keep 'em in your pocket and save them for a time
When you're really gonna need them

The sharp knife of a short life
Well, I've had just enough time

Standing in that stall with her, I felt her presence and her closeness to me stronger than I had ever felt them before. Those words, of all words, were magically flowing over the airwaves as I stood looking at her. Those words were meant for her. My heart burst with the love of her and the joy of hearing her words.

As the song concluded, I covered this little mare with cloth and thanked her for being in our lives. I thanked her for showing us the depth of her transformation and the sheer power of her love. And I thanked her for enduring the pain and horrendous suffering that was needed to get her to these barns. I thanked her for giving me her tender heart and I smiled as I remembered the walk we had taken just the day before . . . .

Laddee and I had headed to the back fields as we always did. The fields where there were trees and garden plots and geese and grasses of all kinds and even more places to find fresh, sweet weeds. But on this particular Thursday morning, M'Laddee wanted to stretch her legs. We traveled farther than we had ever traveled before! Well beyond the normal paths, we went farther than the weather station! Beyond the corn fields and into the soy beans.

In one area, we found a freshly plowed field and she loved it! She dug her feet in and we flew across that field. She put her nose into the earth and smelled it deeply. Her now dirty head went up into the breeze! You could see she was remembering the smell of freshly plowed fields. It was then that I knew she had been a plow horse somewhere in her lifetime. You could see the recognition in her face.

We found a corn stalk with a freshly ripened ear of corn to pick. Laddee loved the taste of that stolen ear of corn and then back on our journey we went! Over to new fields where there was sand to tread on. More smelling and then onward again. What a journey we had that day! Farther and longer than we had ever walked before. I was exhilarated by her energy and promised to take her back to these new places again on our next walk.

Fresh tears came as I realized we would never walk those fields again. She would never nudge us to say, "Ahem. You are standing there and I am standing here so use your hands, please, to touch me." She would never enjoy the lovingly prepared apples and pears and peaches with her food. And she would never again feel the loving touch of her healer, Dr. Anne.

Oh, Laddee, we cry for you! We love you so and are so proud of you! So encouraged by your strength and your stamina! So unprepared to have you leave us so suddenly and unexpectedly. So unprepared for the complete emptiness now here without you.

Last night, a new tradition was begun here at Refuge Farms. A new tradition to help us all heal after the loss of one of our own. A tradition of healing.

We gathered yesterday afternoon and spent time with the living ones. We fed them and brushed them and played with them. And, of course, fed them treats. Then we turned them out for the nighttime of picking the fresh grass. And we watched as they rolled and ate and moved as a herd. We marveled at their beauty and grace. And we talked of Laddee.

Stories of her flew out of all of us. We shared our awe of her and told our fondest memories. We talked of her and we did this as we ate. We ate dinner together while talking of her. One said, "This is what it is all about. The love. Sharing the love." And so, Laddee, you've continued teaching us, even in your crossing. You've taught us how to grieve. To share the sorrow and the stories with each other at a Memory Meal. And in that sharing, to begin to heal. You have taught us yet another lesson, M'Laddee. In your own way.

I could write volumes of the stories and the teachings of this thrown away horse. But today, I must just say that she is crossed. Her mane is flowing and her eyes can see. She is with her beloved Jack but will wait for her Handsome, as well. She is whole again. And there is no longer a need for her to be a warrior. Laddee can now relax. Finally. And simply be Laddee, the Little Belgian Mare.

We buried Laddee right next to Frances Andrew and next to him for a reason. You see, I know that this little mare will change us. I instinctively knew that a year ago but I did not see the changes nor do I yet see the full impact of her presence. I know she will change us. Change our missions. Change our organization. Change how we do things with these horses. Change us. This mare was here for a purpose. A distinct and definite purpose. This horse had a destiny and it was to be here.

The extent of her influence and even the purpose of her presence I have not even guessed at yet. But I know that her full meaning will come. In time. I know, though, like I know my name, that this horse was destined to be here. Here to teach us. So next to Frances Andrew, the horse that started it all, was the only place to bury her.

Late on the evening of her crossing, I ventured out to her in the darkness. I found her by the smell of the freshly turned earth. I recalled our walk in the fields just the day before and the joy she took from digging her feet deep into the freshly turned earth. I cried as I thought of her now beneath that fresh earth. I cried for her and then I talked with her. I thanked her again for her time here and I asked her to stay close for a while. Help us heal, I asked. And show us your purpose. Loud and clear. Show us what it is that we are to learn from you, Laddee. Show us. In your own way.

And then I placed a rose on her. Just like that song said, I laid her down on a bed of roses . . .

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