Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Incredible Journey - Part 6

It ultimately took weeks before I would feel even remotely like myself again. But, it didn't take long before I was back at the barn. In fact, I went back the weekend following Taco's death. I told myself that it would be hard no matter what, so waiting before going back wasn't going to help or change things.


I continued riding and grooming the other two horses there for a few months. It was nice, and I was glad to have them in my life, but things would never be the same. Once again, just as it was at the beginning of this whole journey, I found myself without a horse of my own. I loved both of these horses very much, but they weren't mine. It was impossible for my partnership with them to grow as strong as the one I had with Taco.

At the very beginning of July of that year, I was told that I was no longer welcome there. It was through no fault of my own - to summarize, the two barn owners, who were romantically involved, were in the midst of ongoing disputes, which had been brewing for months and eventually reached a climax. I became a pawn, one person kicking me out to get the other one upset (I was the only one who came there on a regular basis - the other two horses belonged to the barn owners). I accepted my fate as best as any kid could, and said my goodbyes to the place where I spent so much of my youth, knowing I'd never return. I tried riding at another stable a few months later, but never felt that special connection again and gave it up after just a couple of lessons.

Taco's ashes sit in a wooden box in my room. If there was anything to be glad about, it was that he now really was mine, and would stay with me forever. His halter lies in a drawer under my bed, and those locks of hair that were clipped off of him the day before he died are in my desk. His name plate that used to hang above his stall is stored in my basement. These mementos and the dozens of pictures I took of him are the only physical items left from what was something that used to encompass my existence.

It's easy for me to still feel sad about all that I had and all that I lost. I think about it a lot, especially around this time of year. Every birthday is a silent reminder, too, of that day when I turned eleven years old and got the gift of his friendship. What makes it worse is that I know there will never be any horse - or animal - in my life quite like him. But, at the same time, I know I must be thankful for the fact that I got to spend so much time with him in the first place. To have lived to forty is an impressive feat for a horse. And, although I still have those nagging thoughts that wonder about what would have been if the vet had chosen a more aggressive treatment approach, I know deep down inside that our time together could not have been much longer, anyway.

Taco taught me so many lessons in those six years I spent with him. For one, he showed me that friends can come at the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected places. He taught me about what it meant to be motivated, to be dedicated to something that you find important. He taught me to never take for granted life's simple pleasures. At death, he showed me that even the most horrible of endings cannot take away from what was a magical, storybook friendship. I am a different person - a better person - for having known Taco. He has had a profound impact on my life.

I guess it's those themes that I wanted to convey to you all by retelling this story. That when you love, you should love deeply. That when you make a decision, even if no one else agrees with you, what matters most is that you yourself believe that what you did was right. That when do you something, you must do it to the very best of your ability. And that when you come along someone who needs your help, you just might be able to change both their life and your own with a little bit of time and effort.

Taco, where ever you are, I hope it goes without saying that I love you with all my heart. Thank you for everything that you did for me. It was an honor to have been by your side, an experience that I will never forget as long as I live. No matter where my life takes me, my heart will always be in the aisles of that old barn, in the middle of that green paddock, in the places where I was with you.


Here marks the end of one of the most heartfelt things I've ever written. In telling this story, I feel like Taco came back to life for a little while, in a spiritual sense. Thank you for reading along and making this experience possible for me.

27 comments:

mayziegal April 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM  

Mayzie's mom here. Well, Sam, I made the mistake of reading this at work and now I'm hoping no one walks into my office and wonders why I'm crying.

Thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful friendship with Taco. You were both very lucky to have each other and you are very wise to realize the important life lessons you learned from him.

Thank you again for letting the rest of us get to know this amazing horse, too.

Amber

Sue April 15, 2010 at 12:13 PM  

Thank yo for sharing your story with us. Sometimes there is one special animal that gets into your heart and stays there forever, even long after death. Bentley was mine and Taco was yours. They make us better people and better pet owners.

Channon April 15, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

What a lovely tribute to a remarkable horse who lived such a very long life! I'm so glad you got to have some very physical reminders of your great friend. Again, thank you for sharing Taco's story with us.

Rufus and Indie April 15, 2010 at 1:34 PM  

Lovely text! I really loved it! It's amazing how animals can help us in so many different moments!

Lots of kisses

houndstooth April 15, 2010 at 2:30 PM  

I felt much the same way you do about Taco about two special dogs in my life. Even though the experience of losing them was painful, I'm glad I went through everything that I did with them! It's okay to be nostalgic over things that are a big part of who you are, or were! (hugs)

kissa-bull April 15, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

i too am with mayzies mom
thinking the worse was read yesterday i too read this last part at work and as my dogs would say my eyes are leaking buckets right now
please take my heartfelt thanks for sharing your beutiful memories with us. through your posts we grew to care for taco as well and felt your deep love for him. you must know he is watching down on you and waiting patiently to see you again at the bridge.
hugs
sandra
pittie packs mom

LauraK April 15, 2010 at 2:55 PM  

What a beautiful story Sam! It definitely brings back memories of my animals that were so dear to me. I had a goat named Dixie that was my absolute best friend and got me through highschool- she was such a gift. She died very unexpectedly, so it was a tragic ending- but I will forever cherish those lessons of life that she taught me.

I'm sure Taco is waiting to be reunited with you on the other side of the bridge :) He was very lucky to have somebody like you to love him. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

giantspeckledchihuahua April 15, 2010 at 6:12 PM  

Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute with us. I know it couldn't be easy to relive it all. I can picture you agonizing over every word trying to describe everything Taco meant to you.

It's more than a great story, it's life with all that's good and not so good.

Muttsandaklutz April 15, 2010 at 6:42 PM  

It must have taken a lot of strength and conviction to share this most personal story. I often wondered about it in the past when you made brief references to your experience with Taco, and I'm grateful for what you have shared here. A beautiful and very moving story -- what an incredible gift you and Taco gave to each other.

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom April 15, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

Two things to add:

Never say never...Taco may send another heart in need of your love at some point in your life

AND

Never settle...fight for what you want and feel is important

Thanks so much for sharing this - as someone who also feels release/relief through writing, I know how therapeutic yet brutal it was

Bravo!

MARGE: Please pass along our thanks to your special mom!

Stella April 15, 2010 at 10:00 PM  

A wonderful story, Sam, and very well told.

Have you considered that the reason Taco lived so long was just for you to learn the lessons? I love thinking that!

Cheers and hugs,

Jo and Stella

Maureen April 16, 2010 at 12:40 AM  

How lucky Taco was to know such profound love and friendship in his lifetime. So many of us in this world (both human and animal) spend a lifetime searching, and searching, and searching, for just such a thing. Most of us will never know this level of devotion. What you and Taco gave each other is beyond what words can convey -- it is immeasurable.

Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story with the world. It's an incredible tale to remind us all how lucky we are if we find that once-in-a-lifetime kind of love, whether human or animal. Love is a gift never to be wasted.

Sam, I think you should seriously consider submitting this story to either a book or magazine publisher. It is amazing on so many different levels.

Kathy April 16, 2010 at 1:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy April 16, 2010 at 1:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy April 16, 2010 at 1:06 AM  

part 5 left me feeling so sad...so lonely...and part 6 really somehow strangely felt so much better, so full of hope, and so full of gratitude I guess...I am so glad you had Taco..even if it meant you had to go through some really tough feelings and emotions at such a young age, and I am so glad for Taco that he had you to brighten his world, I can not imagine how you brightened his life, it may sound sappy but it is really comforting to know there are people like you out in this world

Kathy April 16, 2010 at 1:08 AM  

Sorry, my comment posted twice, but said it did not post, so I wrote it again, and then all three posted, BAD COMPUTER, so that was me doing the deleting, sorry.

KB April 16, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Thanks for sharing Taco's and your story with us. It is a beautiful story of love.

I think that Taco taught you important lessons that now are guiding you with Marge. You're giving similar devotion and love to her as you gave to Taco.

I'm so glad that you knew and loved Taco even though you eventually had to say good-bye.

Sallie April 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

Thank you!

I loved your story.

Petsitgal April 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM  

Hello,
You are incredibly brave to share your Taco story with your blogger friends. I use the word "brave" because it takes a lot of courage and strength to share a story so close to your heart & to revisit old memories is especially difficult.
I loved and identified with your last paragraph! I too believe that you should stand up for what you believe in no matter what the consequences. I think you are a woman of character & I admire your loyalty for your pets.
On another note...I owe you an apology for being such an absent-minded blogger in regards to not responding to your invitation to take part in posting the 10th photo and commenting on it. I wonder if it's too late to join in on that. Also, I did not post your personalized egg on my blog and I am so sorry....I will post it soon, I promise. Easter snuck away from me and as the days went by it got later and later to post it. At the time of the 'personalized egg' posting, I changed my template through Pyzam.com and spent 2-3 nearly sleepless nights trying to figure out why my comment section didn't work (you were the only 1 to alert me of the problem) and I ended up going back to a blogger template. That being said, I was distracted and unfocused for a few days after that AND I am sorry to have left you out of the loop.
Have a great weekend and I hope all is going with Marge! April

AC April 16, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

"That when you love, you should love deeply. That when you make a decision, even if no one else agrees with you, what matters most is that you yourself believe that what you did was right. That when do you something, you must do it to the very best of your ability. And that when you come along someone who needs your help, you just might be able to change both their life and your own with a little bit of time and effort."

Wow Sam. I feel like you have an amazing life journey in front of you with these convictions to guide you.

Gus, Louie and Callie April 16, 2010 at 5:13 PM  

What a wonderful story. We are so glad that you did realize what a gift Taco really was.. Taco is still with you in your heart and no one can ever take that away...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

The Army of Four April 16, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing this very special part of your life with us. We tend to believe that Taco does know how much you will always love him. He's a part of you - and you're a part of him. That kind of thing never ends.
You will meet again.
Hugs to you -
Karen & the Ao4

Dawn April 17, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

Thank you for sharing your love with all of us. He was an incredible horse, incredible friend to you growing up. You made his life wonderful and he gave back unconditional love. That's how it works.

I imagine him reading along with us and giving you a little nuzzle. He will always be there in your heart, and he will always love you, as you love him.

Kari in WeHo April 17, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

thank you for sharing your story. Horses are amazing creatures. I am so glad you got the keep the mementos

RILEY AND STAR April 17, 2010 at 10:39 PM  

Beautifully written! I loved your story!

Riley and Star's mommy.

Cinnamon April 20, 2010 at 12:48 AM  

I am thoroughly touched by your story about Taco. Thanks for sharing it!!

Cinnamon's mum

Sam June 6, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

Sorry, this might have popped up in some blog rolls today..

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