Those familiar with my assortment of four-legged beasties know of the lovely Lady Anastasia, the geriatric horse who came into my life exactly when I needed her. She was 19 years old. I expected to have five or six good years with her, but she gave me so much more. We joked that she’d outlive us.
There’s a huge, Stasia-shaped hole in my heart.
We buried her on the highest point of our property. “Stasia stays home,” I said to my husband when we faced the inevitable on Saturday morning. All but one of our other horses that passed were hauled away, because the water table here is high. With tears in his eyes, my husband agreed and added, “Stasia gets a tree.” When the dirt settles, we’ll plant a magnolia over her, something pretty, something with flowers, something nontoxic that will grow large enough to give shade.
For the first time in over two decades, our farm has no horse. It’s disconcerting, but that emptiness will be put to good use. My husband’s been working on installing new fences and will rebuild the loafing shed. We’ll be converting a stall to serve as a chicken coop. And I’ve decided to bring Diva and Teddy home at the end of September.
Condolences poured in through social media, mainly from equestrian groups who know the pain of having gone through this before. Many mentioned, as have I in the past, the journey over the Rainbow Bridge. The concept of the Rainbow Bridge is assumed to have arisen from Norse mythology, but its first mention in concert with deceased animals comes from a poem written in prose style by Paul C. Dahm. The poem’s a bit clumsy. Steve and Diane Bodofsky rewrote it in variable meter and rhyme. Their version (below), published in 1998, says it well. I try to take comfort in the concept.
By Steve and Diane Bodofsky
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
when their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
is a place where beloved creatures find rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
til The Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
for here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed.
Their bodies have healed with strength imbued.
They trot through the grass without even a care,
til one day they whinny and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes sharp and alert.
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the herd.
For just at that second, there’s no room for remorse.
As they see each other…one person…one horse.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart
has turned to joy once more in each heart.
They nuzzle with a love that will last forever.
And then, side-by-side, they cross over…together.