Frigid morning air greets me as I step out the sliding glass door, a stack of cards and pen in hand. I walk down into the yard, and with tears dropping down remove a brick from the corner of the brown tarp. Pulling it back a bit I look at that peaceful, elegant face with silken lines and sweeping eyelashes pillowed on the grass.
I don’t uncover her more. I just want to see her face. I sit down and taking out the cards one by one I write thank you notes using her cheek as the desk. Thank you notes to all those who the night previous fought so hard to save the life of my dream horse.
Yesterday morning I had fed her, strong and vigorous, in her pasture. At lunch she had an apple, her favorite, and she enjoyed every bite. At 5 pm my neighbor saw her lying in the barnyard. Four horrendous hours later she was dead.
It is a horrifyingly unforgettable sight to watch 9 people and 800 pounds of velvet covered muscle fighting for life. Shouts ring out on cold night air as people summon this or that, anything might possibly help. My horse, sweating profusely despite the plummeting temperature, sprays gravel and rips sod while she fights, falls, arises again, groans and keeps fighting. It takes seven people to keep her walking, keep her from killing herself on the spot through the strength of her struggle. It takes two, sometimes three strong men on the end of her lead rope to try to prevent head injuries and more damage to her gut every time she goes down. And tears fall as I pace the yard and look up at the star studded sky and pray aloud and give this beautiful creature - this one that answered every prayer I prayed as a child when I begged God for a horse - give this beautiful creature back to God.
The vet arrives, having left his family to drive over an hour on a cold night to come to our relief. The Christianity of this family friend has imprinted kindness as a permanent feature onto his face, and it is especially good to see this night. He joins the fight for her life. When he speaks to me I see he hesitates to tell me everything he could say, and I look him in the eye and tell him not to be afraid to tell me his opinion straight up. He wants to try a few more things but I can tell he thinks the likelihood of success is almost nonexistent.
Ten minutes later he comes back to me, watching him from the sidelines. I read what he has to say in his eyes before he opens his mouth.
|Pictured on the left with her full sister, Black Pearl, on a winter day.|
“I think we need to put her down.” I look past him to her, lying in the yard gasping for breath to renew her struggle, even though she is heavily sedated. She is beyond recovery.
“I mean, we could try such and such...” I know instantly that the intervention named would be for my sake, far more than because it could do her any good at this point. There is no use in prolonging her agony.
“No. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. You can put her down.”
He heads for the medication chest in his truck and returns, syringe in hand. I drop on my knees by her head and Joshua, still holding her lead rope after hours of fighting for her life, drops to his knees behind me. The vet and I stroke her face, noble even in suffering, until her heart flickers still. I close the sweeping eyelashes over her dreamy eyes. The vet stands up. I do too, shake his hand and thank him. His eyes fill with tears. So do mine, and all of ours... in abundance.
* * *
The tears continue through the fitful night and the next morning as our wonderful neighbors return to help us bury her. My friend looks at me, both our cheeks wet, and says that after watching Black Diamond the night before she has a new appreciation of what it means to fight for life. Her words echo through my mind the rest of the day. They contextualize and redefine a passage so familiar, so under-estimated - “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”*
While grace is all God’s, salvation His gift, forgiveness His doing, freedom His miracle, and the strength to accomplish it His power alone, has He not given us a little part to play - to resist??** Then why is it, that when some besetting sin is taking the human down, we hesitate to rip up the sod of our life habits, shrink from spraying the gravel of our cultivated tendencies, withdraw from using every help in reach to fight for life?
Four hours of the strongest battle I have ever seen fought teach me this lesson with agonizing force. I stand above Black Diamond’s freshly mounded grave while tears drop down, and through the ache understand what it is easy to forget during the easy times...
Life is worth resistance. Even unto blood.
Please Jesus, strengthen us to resist...
|That nose was ten times softer even then it looks. |
I miss kissing that little white snip.
**James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8, 9.