Requiescat in Pace
My horse died today. This is my letter to him:
What they say is right: “You don’t really know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I know the passion I once had for horseback riding faded a long time ago, and I know that I haven’t spent much time with you since I graduated from 4-H, and I know that you probably didn’t even know who I was but rather stupidly let me pet you because you just wanted to feel the attention, but all that aside, Phoenix, I love you. Next to Copper, who I hope meets you in Heaven, you have always been my best friend.
I remember your trip back to our house, which would be your home for thirteen years, and the dilemma with which I was faced in trying to find a name for you. It was fall; the colors were spectacular, as they always are in a Midwestern autumn, but I also remember passing one of the countless cornfields and, in a feeble attempt to name you the first night, I ran the name “Cornstalk” by Mom. “What are you going to call him for short?” she asked, suppressing a laugh. “Corny?”
Scratch “Cornstalk.” I don’t remember how we got to the name “Phoenix,” but I remember the nicknames you were quickly given, and how perfectly they fit your personality. “Feeny,” “Beeny,” and “Beanhead” were ridiculous and dorky, but somehow suited you wonderfully.
We were dorks together, you and I. From the moment you first stepped into the show arena at the fair, you were quirky and stubborn. We never won much of anything, but you won my heart. I was frustrated, but mostly with myself because, even then, I knew I wasn’t putting as much into our relationship as I could. But it was still there. It was small, barely flickering, but it was there. The first time I tried showing you in barrel racing, I remember that even though during practice you could run like the wind, that day you decided to walk the entire pattern. A whopping 72 seconds later, I could do nothing but laugh. You were ridiculous. And I loved you.
I still do, buddy. I may not have shown it until these past couple of days when you were the sickest, but I still do. It’s hard to imagine you not out in the pastures playing with the other horses, despite my not being out there as often as I should have. I always loved you; I still do love you; and, Phoenix, I promise you I always will.
…rest in peace.