Apache died last night.
This is so hard on my family, we've had him for 18 years. My poor mom feels not only the shock and sadness of this happening so suddenly, but guilt over not having the $6000-$8000 cash on hand so he could have surgery. I know that we all know that most people wouldn't have it, and most people couldn't do it, but guilt always finds a way to rear it's ugly head during times of sadness.
I'm once again filled with regret. Regret I didn't go see him more often, regret I didn't ride regularly, regret I didn't go over to say goodbye before he headed to the vet. Regret for the end of an era.
My family is horse-less for the first time in a long time. Since I was 7 or 8 maybe? We most likely won't have another horse, and will certainly never have another horse as wonderful to look at and easy to ride as Apache. I don't think anyone has ever fallen off or been thrown from Apache. He had no personality quirks that made anyone crazy. He was sweet to the other horses and great with kids, standing as still as stone as little kid brushed his legs and kissed his shoulders.
We sold him once and he moved to another state, only to have us track him down and get him back later. He's been a member of our family for a long time.
My grieving for Heidi Louise (who I still mourn every single day, all these months later) has convinced me that we will one day meet our pets again. That if I believe in Something after death, and Someone looking out for us and arranging all of those wonderful "coincidences" to remind us of that, and if I know without doubt that animals have as much of a soul as we do (if not more) and that we feel this emotional connection with them, that we will surely meet again. That before I get to the pearly gates, I'll cross the rainbow bridge and be reunited with the unconditional love of the animals who have blessed my life.
But man, is it hard to miss them. It's hard to come to the end of a chapter in your book of life.
Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of him on this computer but here is his home, my parents' barn. The other horses (that belong to friends) will grieve him, having spent almost their whole lives alongside of him. It's just sad. The whole thing is really sad.