A Tribute to a Friend

By Renate Andrasevits Reed

Life sure has a way of coming full circle. I remember when my friend was just a young child, perhaps 4 or 5 years old. Now a grown woman with a husband, she stood at the threshold of a difficult choice. Her steady companion and confidant of many years had reached the sunset of his life.

This young lady's mother was the trainer who had, years before, introduced me to the world of horses. Shortly after my own mother passed away, I decided to ride my bike up to their local stable and asked to be put to work. The rest, as they say, is history. I worked my way from grooming to eventually rehabilitating problem horses, and that led to animal communication and healing work.

My friend's horse had bravely carried on for about a year and a half as his body was being ravaged by Cushings. Though body/energy work and supplements eased this downward spiral, he was now unable to lift his tiny feet for the farrier. Worried about his ability to uphold that huge quarter-horse frame, the owner painfully decided to close this chapter in his life. She did not want him to fall and risk breaking his fragile bones.

We arrived early that morning, gathering to say good-bye to our equine friend. The quiet peacefulness of the California coastal clouds was broken by the passing of automobiles on the road just beyond the trail. Having been in this situation with my own parents and many other creatures, I know the comfort people find in the gifts of animal communication and energy work at such difficult times in life.

I have learned animals view death as another transition in life, much more than humans do. There is a great deal of wisdom behind those big knowing eyes that many of us find ourselves delving into. This morning gave me just one more beautiful glimpse to knowing a bit more than I knew the day before.

In his prime this horse was a great, big, beautiful, deep and rich colored chestnut. Lots of bulky muscles (though his feet were too small) won him many ribbons at shows he attended. He was immensely proud of his accomplishments. The disease of Cushings now left him a mere shadow of his former glory. Those small feet could no longer bear being lifted for regular care. The ravaging effects of Cushings and the osteoporosis it can cause left their mark. Worried and heavy-hearted that her guardian through adolescence would break a leg, she opted to have him released from a body that no longer could contain the grand-hearted spirit within. She could not live with herself would he break a leg, knowing she kept his great spirit here for herself - rather than releasing him for his own good. She honored her intuition.

What played out before us in his final hours was an interesting interaction between species and hard emotions that connect us with a greater awareness beyond our ego and physical senses. There is a place of spiritual maturity we can learn to work from that detaches us from all our humanness, without sacrificing the beauty and magnitude of the souls we are called to work with. We observe quietly the great gifts that souls exchange in the last moments of life.

He was not allowed sweet feed for a long time because of the Cushings. In his last hours, let’s say he loaded up for his journey ahead. He savored this with great joy as well as hay, carrots, and bran.

My animals often wonder why after a trip to the grocery store, we don’t eat all that food at once. Not having to worry of the consequences of colic this time, this horse was more than happy to have appetizer after appetizer sampled for his pleasure. I had to smile to myself that he got a wish so many critters would love to try.

The one thing he was quite adamant about was our “not getting tragic on him”. He accepted loving touches, hugs and kisses (he was loose to go where he pleased), but when anyone walked up to him with the dreaded “oh my gosh, we have to put you down” mind frame - he just wandered off until the person would reconstitute their frame of mind. Then he would accept their final displays of affection.

I noted that this action on his part varied from person to person. There was a young lady there amongst our group who had leased him. Being the youngest and truest to her feelings, the horse allowed her more grace with hard emotions than the rest of us.

Knowing he would return to his full state of “being”, he did not want us looking at him with eyes that felt sorry for the way his bones protruded from his skin. More than once he asked that he be looked up on and remembered as the well muscled, show stopping buff guy he once was. He conveyed this several times, as different human friends of his stopped off to say good-bye.

The conversations between people that morning were particularly deep and respectful. Many people wonder why they grieve more for pets than some people they know that have passed. All our conditioning and training in society leads us to believe it should be the other way around. We grieve harder for pets, at times, because they know and act out of unconditional love. We, as humans, can get very wrapped up in what is expected of us in society, the facade we wear, or even our expectation of any relationship we enter. We tend to color our lives with what we think life should be instead of dealing with life as it really is. Animals are very much in the state of “being in the moment”. They are brutally honest with what they feel at the moment.  It is a very pure state of being most of us two-leggeds have a very hard time operating from. For this reason the critters seem so much more at ease about going home to the spirit world. For the most part, there is not too much unfinished business they have.

We enjoyed some quiet moments just sitting there watching him eat. After a bit (and this seemed comical to me), there were 5 of us there sitting on the hillside. He walked right through the midst of us. I had to laugh because it was almost like he was bowling for humans. He walked over to an equine friend of his to give him one last squeal. Boys will be boys. He then went back to his munching.

About that time the vet came driving up. You could feel a unified sinking of hearts and I was asked to say a final prayer. Having been down this road, I know the beautiful lessons these fine people there had yet to glean from this experience. I had an immense sense of gratitude for this. At this time the horse changed his tune. He now allowed everyone heavy-hearted, good-bye hugs.

The vet seemed a bit surprised to have the 5 of us there. He gave a rather graphic and detailed speech about what could happen in the final minutes of our great friend's life. With this bit of news, some chose to leave. A few of us stayed. It is strange, but after a while of developing non-verbal skills, one can read through the veil of language. I could tell this job was hard enough for the vet. He didn’t need to moonlight as any type of grief counselor. His words seemed to set up a wall of protection for himself.

At this time I said a silent prayer that the creature lie down and process peacefully. So far, when I have done this, they have all passed with grace. The warning the vet gave was nothing like it turned out. Our equine friend slipped gracefully and with eloquence into his next stage in life. His spirit was free, his soul restored to the powerful and buff guy he always knew he was and he had many friends to escort him in that stage of his journey.

It is my opinion that animals retain a better connection to divine/spirit than humans. That fullness of soul allows them to better operate from that place of unconditional love, along with greater ease to return to that “full charge” that divine connection provides. Death is not a disease and is often the final healing act where the soul regains its full potential and wisdom. While we place a premium on looks and strength for outer facade and acceptance among our peers, animals see through the front we present the world, to the beauty and fullness deep inside each soul. Quite a gift they give us, and part of the reason we grieve so hard when they are gone.

The shell that housed his soul was gently taken away as I spoke a few parting words to the vet.

As I drove to my next stop, the drive around the peninsula was gorgeous. Puffy clouds strayed over the blue Pacific, sea birds glided over the still waters near the bluffs. It was so quiet and peaceful. A grace permeated my soul that no words are suited for. I had again learned the power of allowing a soul to die well. That grace helps you to know you are not losing a trusted confidant and guardian, nor do you grieve what represents your own personal loses, youth, times passed, or show ring aggrandizement. You can stand firm in the knowledge that you gave your best to a soul you love, including the opportunity to a passing from one life form to the next with ease, grace and dignity. We need to allow the gift of peace and grace to sustain us through such difficult times.

 There is a moment when you learn that you have not lived until you begin to understand the very things you dread the most. And that my friends, is when you learn to live the most.

© Renate Andresevits Reed. All rights reserved.

About the author:

Renate has been working with horses, small animals and exotics for over 25 years, initially to rehabilitate horses, which led to animal communication and healing work - what she loves to do best! She can be reached at generen2@netscape.net or 310-365-9271.