Saturday, April 1, 2017

28. CHIP

Juno, Chip & Bunny.
“I’m afraid he has colic.” 
I could feel the agony in her voice, over the cell phone. All I know of colic involves carrying my wheezing babies into the bathroom and turning the shower on to steaming hot, praying as I bounced my infant on my shoulder that the breath would return. Carla, too, knows that kind of colic, having raised five babies of her own. But this was a bigger worry, and a larger creature, and she was far from home. If I could have, I would have rushed to the barn and taken a portable stove and boiled water, closing the barn doors and stroking the mane of her Chip, whispering into his ear that it would pass. But the colic of horses does not pass so easily, and before Carla and Dave could get home from their trip to the southern desert Chip laid down in the grassy pasture where he had run the day before and gave up the ghost; his gentle, flowing spirit galloped up to the heavens. Carla and Dave’s son Drey was a loving and dutiful caregiver and it broke his heart to tell his mother Chip was taken so suddenly ill. The vet did what he could, but in the end there was nothing he could do to save him. Carla wept for many months, and weeps still in her quiet places.
Carla cleans where she feels most at home.
I am not a lover of horses. Not up close, at least. I think they are lovely from a distance. I may not love horses, except in the eternal sense of loving all God’s creatures, but I do love Carla. I had brought two horses into Carla's life as payment for the work she did on my Pontiac Rocket album. I knew that horses were medicinal for Carla, and Carla needed health. But now Carla hurt, and because she hurt, I hurt.
Chip's massive shiny sable shell lay in the grass out there in west Farmington, where his brother Juno and mother Bunny stood restless in their stalls. Because Carla could not be there, I felt a need to drive down to the barn before the vet came to take his body away. I reigned-in my natural discomfort with animal places, and walked on my unsteady feet around the perimeter of the pasture until I found his body tucked into the tall grass within the fence line. I bent over, placing my hand against his long velvety neck, stroked his soft white face, and whispered:
“Thank you, dear Chip, for accepting and returning without guile or expectations, the love of my friend. Thank you for needing her, and for understanding her need for you.” 
Though my legs do not let me kneel these days, I stood over his lifeless body and turned my face upward, offering a prayer, asking the Lord to take care of him, and to take care of Carla without him. Few people understand her like I do. Few people know how deeply she takes some sorrows. I felt a need to commend his spirit to God, not in any presumptuous manner, just out of love, knowing this is what Dave would do if he were there, Carla on the ground beside him, her boots laid parallel to the ground,  her arms cinched around her horse's neck, her heart pressed against his lifeless body, her tears getting lost in his supple hair. I was a sorry substitute, but I tried. The breezes from the east, familiar to all who live in Farmington, carried my words out toward the Great Salt Lake.
I stood as long as the spirit directed me that afternoon, there beside my friend’s dead horse, wanting to represent but knowing how inadequate I was at such a thing. 
Before I left him I asked Chip for a lock of hair. A token of remembrance. He sweetly obliged. I tied that jet-black portion of his beautiful mane in a ribbon.

For Carla’s birthday last year I ordered a silver charm from a jewelry supply company on the Internet. Into a piece of it I tucked a finger full of Chips hair. I gave the thing to Carla, a token of my love for her, and her love for Chip, and Chip’s love for her. Thank the Lord…the maker of all creatures big and small…that Love never dies.

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