It's been a sad day today, in our little corner of Winwick - one of the horses in the field close to our house died. We know the owners well, my girls have ridden Jamie over the years and we have always enjoyed the way that he comes up to the fence to greet us and demand treats. It will seem strange not to see his shaggy head lifting to greet visitors and assess whether they have interesting food in their pockets.
Our house is close enough to the field to have seen the comings and goings today; the owners and their families, the vet, the horse box to take him away. I did wonder if this was a suitable subject to post on a blog, but it's a fact of life that nothing lives forever - a circle of life thing, as the line in the film goes - and whilst we have had our share of grief in our family like any other - parents, grandparents, pets - it is never something that you are prepared for.
I have tried to do the best I can today to help both the owners and the girls, and even though at times like this you feel that it's never enough, it's something. Big daughter understands about death and whilst desperately upset, can rationalise that a sick horse needed to be set free from his illness. Small daughter coped until bedtime and then the tears came until we imagined Jamie galloping free in the field, eating what he wanted without restriction and not being poorly any more.
Jamie may have been "just a horse" but he was part of our landscape and part of the owners' lives and it's impossible for me to dismiss him as something not important. It's never easy to say goodbye and the impermanence of the world causes more pain to the ones left behind that to those who leave, but as much as we'd like to, we can't shield the ones we love from everything that the world has to throw at us. I know that this sadness will become part of what makes my girls who they are, and for all of us, perhaps, a reminder not to take things for granted, even big shaggy horses who lean over fences to snatch treats.