How do I tell you about Mama Tess’ decision to leave?
It was so personal and private, yet I owe it to you… but I can hardly bear to tell you. It happened on November 13th. It was a Friday, two weeks ago.
There was no drama, no horrible condition, nothing awful. She simply decided that she was done.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!
The last time I wrote about Mama Tess was just 10 days previous – and she was doing very well!
What happened? All I can assume is that the Naxcel injections made her feel so good, that she overdid it and hurt herself even more.
During those two weeks after her injections, MT was all over the place. I found her up by the arena and way past the pony pasture… she went places she hadn’t been in months.
She was thrilled to be feeling so much better and she wanted to GO!
A few days before we were to start her 2nd round of the Naxcel injections, I noticed that she had slowed her travels. MT was still very happy and engaged, just slowing. So, I asked for the injections to be overnighted for us to begin the next course immediately.
That next morning, MT held up her left foot – the one that always looked the worst but was the most pain free – and she couldn’t put it down. No weight at all.
I was devastated to see that her ‘good’ foot was hurting her. But, I felt it was infection pain. I thought that her right foot had cleared up and now she was showing me that the left one needed attention.
The injections arrived that day and I gave her the first shot.
–The next morning, no difference.
She held up her left foot as she had the day before. I could tell that she had been having difficulty maneuvering in the barn because things were out of plce place (knocked over and strewn about). But, the Team Maggots were coming on this day and they would surely help…
I looked into her eyes and told her that Team Maggots were on their way. I asked MT if it was OK for her to hang in there for 48 hours. That was our rule. We had a ’48 hour rule’. If MT was in bad shape and didn’t turn around within 48 hours, we’d address it. Tess agreed. For the past 32 months, she always got better.
So, I gave her the daily Naxcel shot and applied the Team Maggots upon their arrival.
–The next morning, no better… but I had remembered that the shots took 3-4 days to show any improvement last time, so I administered her shot and tended to her all day. I increased her pain meds to make her comfortable.
On Friday morning, I really had no hint that today would be different. The Naxcel was such a miracle previously, I was very hopeful. Tess had always gotten better before – it didn’t occur to me that she wouldn’t.
As I approached the barn on this fine, crisp morning, Tess was laying down. Not unusual. As I greeted her with a morning kiss, she seemed very happy. She nickered for food. I prepared her special buckets and gave them to her as I went about my chores. Tess ate with gusto. Ahh, I thought to myself, see… she is much better today!
I still didn’t know.
As I finished the morning feed, Tess indicated that she was going to get up. Great, I thought, I can give her the shot before I have to go in and start working.
Still, no indication…
But, as she got up, everything in my world changed.
Not being able to put any weight on that foot made her rising very difficult. She knocked over both of her water buckets and stood splayed. I had never seen her like this. Immediately, she went down again.
She looked at me and I knew.
She didn’t shriek in pain, she didn’t refuse to eat, she wasn’t sweating profusely or giving me any other indication – except she told me.
I had always told myself that I would know when it was time. That moment in the barn – it was as if I was thunderstruck. There was no denying. She told me.
She looked at me and her soul told my soul.
SOME ANGEL CAME INTO MY BODY
I do not know how I proceeded other than to say that I had help from above. Not only did I have a packed work morning (conference call after conference call), but I wasn’t totally prepared for this eventuality – what was presented before me now. I knew, basically, what to do, but I hadn’t done a dry run because I thought I had time.
Someone helped. An angel flew into my body and worked some phone and scheduling magic that made it all come together perfectly and easily.
Throughout those precious morning hours, every chance I had, I flew down to the barn and loved on every part of her. She wasn’t upset. She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t upset that I was upset. Tess had made a decision and now she was preparing herself, I think. And she was standing. She chose to stand and look outside of her window, as she always did – standing in the light.
I gave her all of the foods she hadn’t been able to have in 3 years. I showered her with love and treats. She ate it all up.
To say that I drank in her scent and buried my face into her body would be an understatement. I tried to never ever forget all of her. But, I didn’t know how. I just kept trying…
EVERYONE CAME EARLY
Everyone I had summoned came early. I was actually still in a meeting when I heard the trucks rumble up the driveway.
I went outside.
The reality of it all collapsed me. Seeing the vet was my undoing. But, I knew I had to help prepare my girl.
The vet blocked both of her feet and Tess walked outside of the barn, head held high. She didn’t worry at all that the vet truck was there. On this day, she had a higher purpose.
I made sure that the most noble, the most gracious, the most loving, the most brave, the most incredible mare I’ve even know – was ready… and I left. After one last drink of her, I ran inside, sobbing horribly.
I could not bear to watch her evaporate out of her broken, but lovely, body.
AS THE TRUCKS RUMBLED AWAY…
I truly wailed for longer than probably ever… had I let her down?, had I failed?, what had I done? did I kill her? and… how much I loved this mare and how much I would miss my girlfriend who lived in the barn.
And then in the middle of this actual physical wrenching of my heart – it was as if someone grabbed my shoulders and stood me up – I saw a very vivid picture in my mind’s eye. Clear as day. I was somehow seeing MT from just above her hips. She was running and throwing her head from side to side in pure joy. I could see her knees pulling up high as she blew huge torrents of air through her nostrils while she thundered across a field of tall grass.
She was free, and she let me know.
I stood up knowing she was gone. A few moments later, I collected the courage to look out the window… and I watched as the trucks rumbled away down the driveway. All in all, after I ran into the house, it took 18 minutes for Tess to regain her freedom.
And with that, the last own daughter of the history-making, three time World Park Harness Champion Morgan sire, NOBLE FLAIRE, herself a World Park Harness Champion, left this earth with the same grace and nobility she carried every moment of her life.
HVK NOBLE HEIRESS, b February 1, 1990 d November 13, 2015.
I am so proud that she let me help her… and I am utterly heartbroken that she’s gone and that we weren’t able to fix her. The barn is so very quiet…