Two months ago,
as I loped her around the small paddock
in her first bit of a workout since November,
our grey roan Foxtrotter mare
seemed more than ready
for another season of trails
and training grandkids to groom and ride.
But the bit of bleeding from Jitterbug’s nose
shifted from faint pink ooze to red trickle,
the puffy places around her sternum
grew larger and became too sensitive to cinch,
some sort of ugly growth made her ears
too sore to touch
and most lately, she began to show
some slight stiffness in her hindquarters.
After Monday’s sunset,
I tried to lead her around the pasture,
one last walk together in the deep flush
of brome and bluegrass,
but after the first few steps,
J-Bug turned back toward the barn.
Her eyes spoke of pain
and she held her head at an odd angle,
shaking it from time to time
as if trying to clear some deep angst.
The news from the vet yesterday morning
was no better than we expected.
I held her halter as he probed for the vein,
easing the needle back and forth
until the red ran up and out,
then he joined syringe to needle
and flushed the sedative.
She started to walk a circle
but her legs splayed, wobbled a bit.
She paused for a moment, head beginning to droop.
She looked off toward the field, confused,
and then went down on her side.
She tried for a few seconds to raise herself,
back leg stuck awkwardly into the air,
head held up from the ground.
I rubbed between her eyes and around her ears
as Randa gently petted her neck.
And when her head lay against the grass
and Lady J’s eyes no longer carried the seeing,
we walked away slowly.
I hope that when it comes the time of my going,
there will be those
who love me more than they fear my leaving
and will let me go gently–
a few kind strokes of love to send me along–
and will join me later
in our waiting for That Good Day.