My barn lost a good friend. One of the young riders died in a car accident over the weekend. She was a senior in high school, 17 years old, and started taking lessons when she was eight. Her younger sister is very involved in 4H and her family boarded a young gelding at the barn.
I went out today to ride Sadie, big and pregnant, around and around slowly in the ring. It doesn’t help the girl’s family but there’s nothing I can do. I didn’t know her, don’t know them, wish I could do something. I’ll contribute for the flowers and I’ll keep them in my thoughts.
I do know how awful it is when someone dies, how much you want the world to stop moving forward. You say to yourself, “But this time yesterday, she was alive. We spoke. We made plans. It hasn’t been 24 hours since he died. Look, there’s his hat in the same place. Look, that’s how she left the papers on her desk. She was going to get back to them, I can tell. How can this be? How can any of this be?” And then the day turns around again and you realize it’s been 24 hours since you realized you just spoke to her. And then another day comes and it’s time for his funeral. Numb or trembling or angry, you go through it and think how yet more time has passed since the person who died was walking right there with you. And another day and another day. Everyone goes on. Everyone goes back to school the next day, goes back to work, feeds the animals, drives down the highway, shops for bread, milk, and eggs, hands in an assignment, answers the phone. The world spins on. It is relentless, life is. It drives on and rides on. A funeral procession held me up on the way out to the barn today and I knew it wasn’t hers, but it felt like part of the same thing. The cars slowed down too; it wasn’t just me. Checking our pace as a funeral procession passes is a way to acknowledge that time is suspended in the hearts of those left behind.