I stood within a swirling maelstrom of snowflakes, their gossamer flickering a brilliant contrast to the depthless black of the surrounding night. Di remained unmoving, her head pressed into the length of my side, ardent breaths seeping into my coveralls and warming my hip.
Those moments of unity remain wielded to my heart. Stretching back to the beginning of time, and out into all the days of the future, even beyond my own small existence in the world. Because life is ephemeral but love is infinite.
Within an hour Di would be dead.
The snow waned. The halcyon moment faded. The pain returned. Di left my side, once more pacing back and forth, me trailing along on the end of the shank. When she lay down, I let her, intervening only when she tried to roll. No drugs I had could alleviate her discomfort. The situation was beyond that.
The vet was already on his way, but I knew what the end result would be even before he confirmed it. A section of Di's small intestine had twisted, the tissue dying. Sometimes surgery is an option, but under even the best circumstances, the success rate hovers around just 50%. For my sweet Di, even getting to the clinic was an insurmountable obstacle. She couldn't bear to stand for more than a few minutes at a time.
Once the vet arrived, we dosed her heavily with the strongest painkilling narcotics available to medical personnel. They gave her only minutes of relief. Just long enough for us to confirm diagnostically that Di's intestines had twisted, and would soon rupture, causing even greater pain (inconceivable, considering what I knew she was already going through) then septicemia, shock and, eventually, death.
Our course of action was clear. Di deserved the kind of mercy that comes from letting go, rather than hanging on. So we set her free.
My sister Rachel, and close friend and coworker Bekah were already there. They'd come for Di, as much as for me. Because that's what you do when you love horses. You rush toward the impossible. Brace steadfastly against the unbearable. You endure the unendurable.
And then you go on.
With, or without the horse you loved, depending on which way fate decided to swing, but always with the memories of those moments of unity when you and the horse were one creation. One being in two bodies.
It is so with all of life. We occupy these bodies and this place for only the briefest of spans. Some even briefer than others. But the moments of connection between our souls and the souls of others, human and animal both, cannot be confined within a paltry lifetime. Those connections exist infinitely. And as painful as everyday life can sometimes be, we always have those moments to fall back on and remember.