How Death Changes Life

Stephanie - Hereford, Arizona
Entered on February 17, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death
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When asked about what a person believes in, there is no answer that will be the same. There will be no reason that is identical to another. When I was asked what I believed in, several ideas came to mind. There is one that sticks out more than the rest; the one belief that molded me into the woman I have become. I believe that everything happens for a reason. That all the lessons we have learned in life are from events that allowed us to learn and grow from them.

When I was 14 years old I had two of my horses die. Prince died of old age, and Blondie died at the age of 11 with a broken back. After bucking she slowly lost use of her legs. Animals are my life, and losing any animal is like losing someone in my family. I was devastated and didn’t understand why it had to be my horses. I became deeply depressed and was put on anti-depressants. After months and months of pain I learned one thing, they had died for a reason. They prepared me for what was to come. They were a learning experience for something much more disturbing. I came to this recollection just a few months ago.

At the age of 18, on April 14, 2008 my life took a devastating turn for the worst. My dog Sassy died; she came into our family when I was five so Sassy and I in a way grew up together. We all knew Sassy’s time was coming; she was a very old dog but lived a great life. Throughout Sassy’s life she was able to go on many trips with us as a family and she was just a wonderful dog to have. As a family we helped each other get used to not having her around. Yet my family and I had no idea what was to come. On June 19 my life stopped. My puppy Jax died, he was my world and meant more to me than I could ever describe. Losing Jax hit our family hard. What made losing him so much harder was the fact that he was so young. Jax was supposed to live for years. After losing him I felt nothing was worth it to me anymore. I saw no reason to carry on.

Of course I did, I lived each day in a sort of unconscious state and did what was expected of me. Life keeps going, and things must be taken care of. I had to find new homes for two of my horses. We couldn’t afford to keep all three while I was in school. So with the loss of two of my dogs, I had to give up two of my horses as well. I understood why I had to do it. They would live much better lives with someone that could be with them every day. It was still hard because I loved them and no one was good enough to take care of them like I was. Although I was allowed to keep my very first horse Handsome, which was all I asked for. Paint, one of my horses was taken to a house nearby. Several days later, my horse Jones found a new home.

We took Handsome to a friend’s house where he would stay while I went to school for the next few years. Handsome had skin cancer and we knew that it wasn’t going to allow him to live a full life. I flew to Colorado to see an old friend; the morning after I got back I received the news that I wish I never heard. I remember waking up that morning, still having a hard time not having Jax there next to me. Mom had walked in and was sitting on my bed. She was just staring at me and I could see that something was wrong. She said that Ray called, the man who had been watching Handsome, while I was gone. With tears running down her cheeks she told me the crippling sad story.

“Sheila, I have something to tell you, I’m so sorry but Handsome is dead,” Ray had said. Mom just started crying not believing what she had heard. “Ray what happened?” my mom asked. “I turned Handsome out with some of the other horses. Handsome started running, running faster than I had ever seen a horse run before. One of his front legs came out from under him causing him to do a summersault. I started running out to him as he fell and I was yelling ‘don’t you die on me.’ When I got to him I knelt down by his head and picked it up. His eyes opened and I thanked him for being such a wonderful horse. And then he was gone. I did a ritual done by Indians and sent his soul to heaven.”

I don’t remember what was said after that, I just knew that my horse had died. I remember the tears running down my face but not feeling anything. I had no emotion. I looked at the glass door at the end of the hall. Knowing that Jax was supposed to be sitting there wanting to come inside the house, but he wasn’t there. That’s when I lost control and just started sobbing, yelling from the paralyzing emotions. I remember yelling “When the hell is this going to stop. How much more pain am I going to have to go through?” Several hours later I told myself that I quit. I was done with everything. I wasn’t going to move to Central and I just didn’t want to do anything anymore.

Then I realized that I couldn’t give up. If I gave up on life I would be very disappointed in myself. Handsome and Jax died for a reason, even though at the time, I was devastated. Yet they were gone and I had to survive without them. Not having them in my life has taught me many things. They have brought my family much closer together and in a way they have given me something to live for. I live each day for them since they can’t be here. I try to make the best of each day because I don’t want to let them down. People have a choice, they can let death tear them down and find nothing good from it. Or they can learn from it, grow from it, and make the best of what they have. Everything happens for a reason, I took what happened and let it help me become who I am today. Will you?