It’s never easy, telling the end of a story. Saying goodbye, or even worse, farewell. As a writer, I have always hated that moment when I inevitably have to tell how the story ends. That inescapable final point. I was never good at finding, or getting, closure. Not just in my stories, and my writings, but in everything that I do as well. Endings are incredibly arduous. Very rarely has an ending left me with a sense of completion, of ease, or of acceptance. I crave for more, and I doubt that I am the only one to be burdened so. I know that nothing is infinite, that nothing is forever, nothing is eternal. That, in time, everything will end. In the behemothic scale of the cosmos, of everything in creation, we are but a blink. A moment in time, a sporadic heartbeat, a long forgotten echo. Even the star our planet is orbiting is ephemeral, a fleeting gasp in the near never-ending universe around us, which, in turn, will wither as well.
Even now, I am trying to avoid telling the end of a story. Because it is too horrific and bleak to accept. Because some endings are so much worse than others, so much harder to tell, that our minds cannot admit that it is tangible and real, that it has happened, and that it is not simply a dreadful nightmare from which you can wake up. It was a wonderful story. A great one, the kind you read about in the books, or see in the movies. The kind of story that could move mountains and shake the very foundations of the universe. The glorious and triumphant kind. And I owe it to him, to tell that story. Our story. Even if it came to such an unfair and abrupt end. It should have lasted so many more years, and it should have spanned continents, but it ended. And it’s a story, and more precisely, an ending that I must write, because it is haunting me. Eating at me, like a dog gnawing on a bone.
The whole world stopped spinning the second I first laid my eyes on you. I saw you, and the world disappeared around us, fading into a comfortable and serene darkness, and there was nothing left but you and I. As if we were standing in a spotlight, except the light came from within us both. Suddenly, you were the gravity holding me on Earth. And for a split moment, I think I saw it all. All the strings connecting one being to another, all the strings that, when pulled, set something in motion, even thousands of miles away, ripples down the future. All the possibilities, endless, limitless, everything we could do, how far we could go, all that was being laid before us. The world stopped for us. Unless it was spinning just for you and I, no longer submitted to any law of physics, even just for a split moment.
Almost every horse person I have met have the same saying. It’s not a saying, not really, it’s more of an idea, a concept, maybe even a belief. They say that equestrians have two possible types of strong bonds and relationships with horses. There is the “cheval de coeur”, which would translate as “your heart’s horse”. A horse with whom you will bond deeply, whom who will love very much, and most equestrians meet several of these partners across the years. And then, there is the “cheval d’une vie”. Literally, “the horse of your life”. Think of it as a soul mate. That second half of you, the one that makes you complete. I used to laugh at that idea. Soul mates. I found it even sad, somehow. To think that one could not be whole, until they had met that special being, that they were condemned to roam the Earth incomplete… It was a heartbreaking thought. Until I met you. Most riders aren’t lucky enough to ever meet such a horse. You’ll only ever have the one, and that is if you’re lucky enough to ever get the one. And I did. That spring day, when I first saw you, I knew. I just did. There was no doubt, it was an evidence, it was absolute. You were the one. Le cheval de ma vie.
Even your name was fitting. Alexandrin. It translates as “Alexandrine” in English, that 12 syllable verse in poetry. I have always been a writer, so I was already one when I met you. And you were named after something poetic, a melodic verse. How could it be more fitting? You became my Poet.
We had almost seven years together. We went through so many adventures, overcame so many obstacles, so many hardships, but we never gave up. We always moved on. Always stayed together, no matter what. And we did so until the end. I don’t have the heart to tell our whole story right now, and I would need a whole book to tell the world about it (which I will, some day). But it was amazing. We did not just move mountains, we moved people. In the aftermath of that tragic day, of that terrible ending, I have had so many people come to me and tell me they thought of us as one single entity, a unique being, that we were indivisible. I have had people cry while they were telling me how obvious my love for you was, and still is, because of the way I talked about you. The smile on my face, the stars in my eyes, the laughter in my voice when I told them about you. They knew you were not just a horse. They knew you were so much more than that. You were my companion, my partner, my best friend, my rock, my North star, my anchor, my light in the darkness. And more than that, you were a part of me, and you always will be a part of me, and I of you.
You died in my arms on that dreadful Thursday, on January 12, 2017, a little after 2pm. We found you in the morning laying on the ground, with blood all over your head. You were in shock, and you were in a severe state of hypothermia. You had a very deep and huge laceration on the left side of your head, that showed the bone and a severed muscle underneath all the blood. Next to your right eye, there was a bloody hole, and your eye was swollen shut. There were small lacerations all over your head, and you had so many bruises. It was a full moon the night before. We think you and the other horses were excited, and you all ran, drunk with freedom and happiness, early in the morning. And for some reason, a branch probably hit you next to your right eye. You fell, or ran into a tree, because of the pain, and you hit your head, lacerating the left side of it. You managed to get back up, but fell to the ground afterwards, either from the blood loss, or the shock, or possibly a head trauma. And you couldn’t get back up.
We tried to warm you with blankets, and hot water bottles, and massages, best we could while we were waiting for the vet. There were so many people around you, talking to you, caring for you. I sat by your head the whole time, talking to you, singing Pink Floyd songs to you, like I always used to do. When I arrived that morning, and I saw you, I knew. I knew you this was your ending, our ending. I just knew. The spark that made you you was fading; your light, your fire were being snuffed out, and I knew. Everybody kept telling me there was a chance, that there was hope, but I knew. And you knew too. So I told you. I told you that, if you wanted to go, that was okay. That you should not fight just for me. That only what you wanted mattered. That if you wanted it to end, then I would respect your wishes. I told you all that, and I think you understood.
When the vet arrived, she gave you pain killers, and a drip that had bathed in burning hot water to try and warm you up from the inside. You warmed up a little, and you were comfortable enough to catch some sleep. Your head was in my arms, and you started dreaming. I could tell by the way you were moving your legs and ears, and the small groans you were making. Maybe were you dreaming of a warm beach, on which you could gallop all your content. We tried to get you up after that. Because if we could get you up, we could take you to the clinic. Have a better chance at saving you. So we tried, with ropes, and pulleys, and there were 10 of us pulling, and pushing, and encouraging you. But you couldn’t get up. You didn’t want to get up. You wanted to be let go. So I asked the vet to let you go. Everyone said their goodbyes while I was sitting by your head and reassuring you, telling you it was okay, that it was really okay, that you should go. I quoted Horatio to you, from Hamlet. I’ve always liked that quote, even before it became a famous internet meme. And I thanked you. Told you that I loved you, over and over again, with my head against yours, until it was over and even after that.
I stayed by your side even after you were gone. Getting up, and walking away from you was by far the hardest thing I ever had to do, and probably will ever have to do. And I have done some very hard things before. But never like this. A part of me stayed with you. I felt it being ripped from my chest with each step I took away from your body. Even the vet was impressed by our relationship. She told someone she had rarely seen a person being able to calm and smooth their horse the way I did you. But how could she know? That it was as easy as breathing for me to calm you down, because you were, and still are, a part of me, and I of you.
I had you cremated. After I get your ashes, when I feel ready, I will set them free on a beach. I think you would have like that. You were always a free spirit, and you were never one for confinement. You would have hated the idea to spend the rest of eternity in a box, six feet under. It’s not who you are. You would have wanted to be free, so I will set you free. In the wind, the ocean, the sand, and the universe. Where you’ll be the freest you’ve ever been.
But it’s hard. It’s so fucking hard. All I see is that last day. I see it every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day. It’s like a transparent screen has been put over my eyes, and I see you, bloodied and defeated, printed over my sight. And I cannot escape it. I see your body under blankets with people sitting by your side in the distance as I drive towards you. I see my friend running to me as I stop my car and jump out of it, the expression on her face, and how she hugged me. I see your glassy eye and your head covered in blood, your blood all over the ground. I see you shaking, and trembling, and your muscles twitching with the tetany. I see your mane all tangled up, covered in mud and blood. I feel you so cold under my fingers. I feel your feelings, in these last moments, every moment of every day. I feel the cold of the blood and mud sipping through my clothes as I sit by your head and try to comfort you. I feel my muscles contract as I pull the rope to try and get you up, as I push you, as I fall to the ground because you fell back. I feel the words in my mouth as I sing “Comfortably Numb” to you, as I ask my friend “He’s not going to make it, he is?”, as I tell the vet to let you go, as I talk to you while you’re dying from the injections the vet gave you. I still see the blood, your blood, on my clothes, shoes, hands, arms, even on my face and my hair. And no matter how many times I shower, or how hard I scrub, I still feel it. I see, feel, remember all of that, all the time. It’s constant, no way out, no escape, no matter what I do, or what I try.
And I’m still trying to realise that this is real, that it has happened and still is happening, but it doesn’t make any sense. How could it? How can a world in which I exist, but you do not, make any sense? It can’t. It just can’t. And I think of all the days that were stolen from us, all the moments that were taken, the infinity of possibilities that were ripped from us, and I can’t breathe. And I think of everything we used to do, and that we will never do again because you are gone. I remember how I used to put my face in your neck and breathe in, because your scent was the most comforting and reassuring smell I could imagine. How I used to run my fingers through your mane or your coat, and marvel at the softness of it on my skin. How I would try to kiss your head, and how you would turn your head away, because you were offended and outraged that I had tried to kiss you without your say-so. How it would cause me to laugh and call you “princess”, because of how noble and princely you could act. How, sometimes, in rare and precious moments, you would put your head against my body, or breathe down my neck, and the world would once again disappear around us, because you were all the gravity I needed. I remember all of that, and so much more, and then I realise that I will never have any of it again, because you are gone. And it makes absolutely no sense. I find myself all alone, with a part of me, a colossal part of me, gone, and there is no gravity holding me any more. And I’m floating in space, trying to make sense out of it all, but I can’t. It doesn’t make sense. It will never make sense.
Your life should never have come to such an end. It was a tragic accident, and there is no one or nothing to blame for what happened, and that makes it even worse. Because all there is left to blame is me. Me, myself and I. So I think of all the “what if” I can possibly think about, and I blame myself, and I hate myself. How am I supposed to accept such an ending? Endings are fucked up. Our story was epic. It was as colossal as the universe itself, and it should have lasted for at least as long. I do not believe in heaven, but if there is an after-life, I have no doubt you are now running all your content on endless beaches. The universe shines a little less bright with you gone. Thank you. For being there, for being you. Always. Thank you. You brought me a slice of heaven, and you will always be a part of me. I love you. I love you, so much more than words could possibly express. I will always love you, Alex. Always.
Alexandrin, aka Alex
02/02/1995 – 12/01/2017
“Goodnight, sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”