Four years have gone by since I lost Gogo. Four years applying the salve of time really does do wonders for your hurts. When you lose something that dear to you, it may feel like you'll be never okay again, but someday you will be. You won't ever be the same again, but you will feel much better in time.
Gogo's death changed everything. Losing her was utterly worst-case-scenario for me. When I lost Metro to his massive suspensory injury, I vowed to make sure that the next one I found was the soundest, nicest horse I could find. I looked for the better part of a year before I found Gogo. I traveled around the country. I turned horses with iffy prepurchases down. Gogo ended up being right around the corner from where I was living in PA at the time, and her prepurchase was immaculate save for her one clubbier foot. She needed a lot of training but otherwise she was a clean slate. I was convinced nothing would ever happen to her. I was very careful with her. When she did injure herself, I spent every waking moment carefully bringing her back, obsessing over her care. I successfully brought her back twice, only to have her reinjure twice. Two years of failed rehab later, and everything I had hoped for, everything I had struggled to keep all fell apart. Despite everything, everything I did, I still lost her. Gogo was everything to me - the only thing that mattered - and losing her left me completely shellshocked. She factored into every major life decision I made. She was the only thing I cared about. At the time, I described losing her as being forcefully cut in half, with the remaining piece of me being thrown back out into the world to try and relearn how to live again.
And I did learn. And I did change. Everything is different now and a lot has happened in the four years since I lost her. I've been around a lot tragedy in my life, and seen a lot of extremely gross and gruesome deaths, but Gogo's death stands out in my mind as the worst. She died peacefully and quietly, but it was the hardest for me to deal with. Every death after hers has been easier for me to process - including the deaths of my two elderly dogs - I think because Gogo's just left me utterly shellshocked and completely rattled. When you do everything in your power to make sure something never happens again, and that thing *still* happens despite being 100% nonstop obsessed with trying to prevent it... it changes you. I think it's part of the reason I have as many equines as I do now - having several at once takes the intense focus off of just one. Looking back this far out, I can say that I think the burning total involvement that I gave to Gogo was not totally healthy for me. Then again, I think part of the reason I've not seen the same kind of success since is because I don't have the same kind of crazed maniacal fire directed exclusively at one animal. Although, now that I think about it, I *have* had a lot of success with O and have a good 30 or so blue and red and yellow (and one sad white) ribbons hanging on the wall, including two Reserve Champ and three Champion ribbons, which is three more Champion ribbons than I ever won with Gogo. So, maybe I am wrong there. I don't know.
But I am different now. I put a lot of time and resources into my business, which takes away some of my pony obsession time. I am not quite as young and limber as I was ten years ago, and now at the age of 30 I realize that I only have one body and I need to make it last the rest of my life. I smashed it up pretty good when I was younger and never thought anything of it, but I've started to realize that I am not quite so bulletproof anymore. Some days I am too tired and sore to ride or drive at all. That was definitely not a problem when I had Gogo - I would just bounce up and go. I wonder, would these things all be the same if Gogo was still here and I didn't have any other horses? I don't really know.
It isn't something I dwell on though, with her or any other lost thing in my life. I don't see much reason to play the what-if? game with myself. I played it when Gogo died - what if I had done this different? Or this? Or changed this? Or not done this? And in the end, none of that matters at all. What's done is done, and it can't be changed now. I am happy to be where I am, doing what I am doing, and love the horses I am with now. O has brought me her own hilarity, stories, successes, failures, highs, and lows. I love and cherish all of my horses, but that red mare is just my girl. I may not have ever found her, or any of my other horses, if Gogo was still here - so in a way, I have her to thank for all of them.
I guess the point of all this babble is this: time really does help the heart heal. Gogo led me to so many wonderful things and I am so much to be thankful for, all because of her. I'm not the same - I will never be the same - but that's okay, because our life experiences shape our personalities and we should never be too sad to add new layers to ourselves, so long as we focus on the positive things. And our dead loved ones will never really be gone, as long as we remember them and honor them and carry them along in our hearts.
Go tell your ponies that you are thankful for them every day. They may not speak the same language as us, but they understand what you mean when you tell them.