Friday, November 4, 2011

Remembering Jack, part III

Last Good-bye  
In the end it was colic that claimed him, a very common cause for older horses.  We had hope on that first evening of vet treatment that he would rebound, but the following 12 hours proved us wrong.  

Our last evening together....

Photo by my husband.  On my last evening with Jack, after  the vet
had been out, my family surprised me and came up to the barn that night.  We gathered
around Jack's stall and prayed for him.  

When I arrived back at the barn around 6 am on Wednesday, October 19, it was a pitiful scene awaiting me.  Laura was in the red barn, with Jack laying down before her.  I rushed in and saw that he was suffering.  He kept laying his head down flat and then pulling up, as if he wanted to stand.  This went on for some time and then, amazingly, he stood and so we walked around together.  Ginger, the mare most devoted to him, was near and also a cat that I had not seen before.  A little black and white thing.  She kept coming around, rubbing against Jack's muzzle as if in greeting... or parting.   I believe animals know more than us at times   -they have a pure sense, uncorrupted by sin, from their Creator.   
And something else I want to remember, the sky was spectacular that morning.  It was still dark and the stars were amazing... very clear and Laura was naming the constellations as we slowly walked under those beautiful heavens.   We walked and walked and walked... his abdominal pain was too great to stand still.
Laura told me that before I arrived, at about 5:30 am, Jack wanted to walk, so she put a halter and lead on him and followed him.  He walked to their house and looked out over the fence toward the rest of the horses.   Then he walked to the other end of the farm, toward the front fields, some 80 + yards in the other direction.  He then returned to the barn to lay down.
As Jack & I walked together for hours that morning, I sang hymns to him, rubbed his belly and ears and prayed for him, too.  I was thankful for the pain medication Laura had administered to him at 4 am.  By 8:15 am, the mineral oil the vet had administered the previous evening as a remedy, came trickling- at times pouring- out his nostrils and tears welled in my eyes.  
Some animals in pain and distress will lash out or become despondent..Jack did neither.  He remained his gentle self until the very end;  his eyes looked at me with those brown depths of sincerity, as always.
It's awful to be walking your horse to his gravesite... absolutely awful.  I believe though, that it is important to be there for your pal until the very end, to send them away in an atmosphere of love.  I am thankful to my vet, Dr. Lynn Sparks, for coming to meet us right away.  Her exam revealed that we were doing the right thing by putting him down... a heart rate over 200 bpm, purple gums and tongue, short rapid breaths.. he was slipping away, his body shutting down.    Why did I think he would live forever?
I stayed very close to his face, on the left side, speaking softly, telling him I loved him and thanking him...watching his beautiful eye.  Very soon it was over.  After she administered the drug, he stood on his hind legs and fell over in a sickening thud and breathed his last.
In hindsight, thinking on that exact moment, it was almost as if he was rearing up and heading to heaven.  At least, I like to think so.  Laura thought this, too. 
I could never ask for better support and love than was shown to me by Laura & Gary and Dr. Sparks during those final hours.  I also have my dad and James Green to thank for helping to dig the gravesite right away and treating Jack's body with the utmost respect and care.

Sunrise Service
My family, too, deserves much praise.  We have a way of coming together when it really counts, of being there for one another in times of heartache or distress.  We've always held a funeral when a beloved pet passes away and Jack was no exception.
On Sunday, the 23rd, we rose very early in order to hold a sunrise service at Jack's gravesite.  We live about 40 minutes away from Beauty Mountain Farm and so, it was asking a sacrifice of our children, who love their beds on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  We left a few minutes after 6 a.m. and made it in plenty of time before the rising sun.  

Our daughter, in the early morning chill (32ºF) at sunrise

Along with the rakes we brought to smooth out the gravesite, we had candles, a heavy, resin cross, a bible and incense.   Revelation talks about incense burning in heaven, as well as horses being present in that blessed realm and so, this seemed very fitting.    As the fragrant aroma of incense pleases our senses, so too, do our prayers please our Heavenly Father.

Will, my husband, working on gravesite... incense and cross in foreground.

Our makeshift headstone, with cross and burnung incense,
adorned with goldenrod and red clover

I said a prayer, asking God to have a place for Jack in heaven and that he would enter it with a mighty rush.  A poem also was shared, one that had been mailed to me by another horse-loving friend.   And then I spoke about the importance of animals surrounding Jesus' life on earth.  They were present at His birth in the stable and one little donkey was so blessed as to carry our Saviour upon his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The animals must be important to God, otherwise he would not have made a place for them in the ark or tell us that He knows when one sparrow falls.  
Will said a few words, too, about the history of the horse as a helper to man in bringing forth food from the earth and for transportation.  He mentioned the war horse as well, always willing to carry his rider into battle and even though war horses are long gone, he was sure Jack would carry me anywhere I wanted to go.

Photo by our in the middle, feeling lost.

It was a beautiful, touching service and I wasn't that surprised to see the other horses looking over the rail at us, some distance away.  Not surprising either that Brio stayed with us the entire time.  He is one of many farm dogs at Beauty Mountain.  All of them loveable, but Brio has unique qualities.  He's a gentle giant of a dog, a Maremma, a watchdog and companion.  He seems to me an old soul... easy to smile with his lolling tongue and wagging tail, but somber, too.  He's a quiet observer and likes to be near people, especially the kids, I've noticed.  Brio must have wanted to say good-bye to Jack, too.

My husband and children working on Jack's gravesite with Brio

Our son with Brio ...a very warm companion.

Jack is gone but many, many wonderful memories remain.  My life was made better by that gentle, benevolent soul.  The world seems a bit colder now that he's gone.  

As I like to imagine he entered God's Kingdom... in a mighty rush!

Jackson, May God grant you a special place in the Kingdom of Light and may God be merciful and allow me to see you again someday.

To God be the glory for all things


Anonymous said...

Those last moments with a pet so dear are very precious moments. Thank you, Amy, for sharing them with us.

Anonymous said...

Tears in my had enough love for Jack for a pasture full of horses. Grateful we got to have him here his last few years. He occasionally galoped right up till the end...he had spirit even as a very old man. I will never forget how he would without fail line up alongside me after a feeding to get his favorite place scratched - a little hollow just behind his right foreleg. He was persistant, too - if I moved, he would simply move to get me lined up properly again. And did he ever love having the insides of his ears rubbed! We will miss him.

Gary R.

Anonymous said...

Your story touched me, our pets bring us so much joy, love & happiness, it's hard when they die, but Jack knew that you loved him very much and that was important for both of you to have that closure when he passed. God bless you

amy said...

Many thanks to you, Lucie, Gary and Brandy. It means a lot that someone takes the time not only to read some of Jack's story, but to share your heartfelt thoughts.

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