Friday, November 18, 2011


Unbelievable it has been seven years already

since Blake died. Blake was a horse, for those of you who don't know. And my first, and last truly real best friend. i could talk more about it here, but i would rather post my essay i wrote for English last year on the subject of Blake, and his death. I left the introduction i wrote last year in a rough draft in, because i think it adds to the story.

as a general update: i am dropping out to become a vegan baker and make a documentary. i will post about that in another entry. 

so here it is, in honor of you, Blake. 

It was November 18th of 2010 and I had carried out an average day. I knew what I would write the English memoir about, but I had thought about it and decided a week prior. I had just parked in my driveway and I remembered the 6-year anniversary I had neglected. My heart began to withdraw and curl into itself, shriveling, and folding smaller and smaller. The tingling prick of needles that consumes limbs when they fall asleep crept over my shoulders and arms. My stomach was nonexistent and instead there was a boiling pool of rage. Fury at being content, at forgetting. I thrashed at the steering wheel and slammed my head back and back again. I clawed at my legs and arms; at my twisted face my nails dug too. There was a CD in my car, and I played “Set Fire to the 3rd Bar” by Snow Patrol, and “Jesus Christ,” and “Handcuffs” by Brand New. They were the only fitting songs in my car. My body shook as I scratched and tore at my legs – a natural response to heighted peaks of depression for me. I first discovered this the summer before junior year, where I would wake up with red legs, and stained bed sheets. My nail beds were packed with skin. It was my subconscious obviously, acting on the self-hate that accumulated and grew at an alarming rate not-so-deep within me. Was that a fun thing to wake up to? No. I had to do a lot of sheet soaking that summer. Occasionally I will wake to a bloody coating once again, and I smile. I understand my subconscious’s actions while I sleep, and that pleases me. Some people know how their mind works, so by actions they do not recognize to be in control of they can understand the innermost feelings.
I listened to these songs for half an hour. How far away he was, and I from where my mind should be – perhaps. My stomach returned in time for a gag-reflex in substitute for throwing up. That is what crying does.
            “Crying” is an intransitive verb. The definitions consist of: 1. to call loudly, 2. to shed tears often noisily, 3. to utter a characteristic sound or call, or 4. to require or suggest strongly a remedy or disposition. The second definition is the most common usage, and the action can draw different reactions. Common side effects include: shaking, throwing up, screaming, hugging, clenched muscles, throwing things, and self-mutilation, i.e. cutting, burning, coughing in order to feel a scratch in the throat, ect. Now how odd are any of those, really.
I moved inside after the torturous ritual, to allow my body to become victim to another song not available in my car. Listening to my most fitting song, I began to spew my memoir for English class. I didn’t move from the computer screen for two hours and I told the story I have written of often, but never out of apology. I always remembered the days, and I remember the significance of every passing day of the story. Today, however, I had forgotten.
            “Neglect” is a transitive verb. The definitions consist of: 1. to give little attention or respect to, and 2. to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness. Some people are just careless I assume.
“As Your Voice Fades” by Emery begins with,
Somebody please tell me
What am I suppose to do?
You've died and I'm here
Thinking that I hear your voice,
But it's somebody else
It's always somebody else
Why did you die?
Don't leave me please”
I beg of you now, don’t leave me. You have a choice as he did not. Don’t leave my story to weary sightless eyes.

I am sorry Blake. This is for you.
A turn of the head may leave certain people dizzy and grasping for a hold. These same people may shake convulsively at shocking events in their lives. These people cough ferociously, scraping their throats because it soothes whatever darkness is eating them inside.  Imagine what would happen to a person like this if their best friend died.
The girl would never expose her red eyes and soggy face again. She, who is so like those mentioned above, was sprawled on the carpeted fork of her stairway, convulsing on her knees. Hands and words were stroking her back, while only seconds before, those watching stayed their distance fearfully. The eleven-year-old’s mother and sister were staring, not quite understanding. Mother still held the phone in her thin hand, telling sister and sister’s friend that something had happened. The two younger girls had been playing when the mother was on the phone, and she didn’t understand. As the trembling girl fell to the ground, the young children became nervous. The children’s interest was sparked, mostly because of the color that left the older sister’s face. They were not listening when the mother only had to glance at the eleven-year-old to convey everything.
Most children do not understand death; but children who have truly loved an animal seem to understand death better than most. Perhaps from the death of their first pet mouse, they become desperate for life. These children are swallowed by their loss, and the only light they see is to become susceptible again. That is not to say these children leave loss behind easily, for these are the humans that value lives, whether animal or human, for the sake of those without a voice, or thumbs. 
To understand death, a child need only be 12 months old. My parents showed me a movie about a bear cub who grows up to have a happy and humorous life. The cub’s mother was killed by an avalanche of rocks that was not shown on film.  What was shown was the mother bear isolated on a cliff – adult tragedy, parents would think. The rocks pounded down in a low angle shot. I sat through the film silent and entranced, waiting. Parents do not expect their child to sweat fearfully, asking about the mother bear while the credits roll by. I would assume that such a young child would have forgotten the one minute-long event at the beginning of the film since it wasn’t mentioned again. Some children however, don’t give up hope that a mother bear miraculously survives an avalanche at the beginning of the movie. They still hope the mother bear is reunited with her cub in the conclusion. Indeed, they long for such a conclusion so much that their hope consumes the entirety of the movie.
That same hopeful child entered her house dreadfully. The day had dragged on while she prayed her one real friend would be all right. Julia had promised to call her first, right after the surgery and after the doctor checked Blake for any possible aliment. The riding instructor knew the two had a fierce bond. The eleven-year-old girl loved Blake, and Julia saw this every time the girl would dilly-dally around the barn for hours, brushing, walking, and confiding in Blake. The other riding instructors thought the girl crazy, because of her claims that Blake would speak back to her. He did, of course, speak to the girl, and helped her solve every problem she faced during 6th grade. Blake understood everything she said to him, as she saw how he would stare at her with his silky chestnut ears perked and attentive. He would pull her to his powerful shoulder with his sculpted neck and rest his head by her when she was crying about the horrors of little girls. Blake was the kindest horse in the barn, and even with arthritis, as a result of his racing days, he was the fastest horse in the stables. However, he did not want to win races. Blake never wanted to beat the other competitors, and therefore his speed was useless. And so, he lived the dreary life of a lesson horse.
The girl never gave much thought to Blake’s situation until many years after he left. No one could happily live a life of obedient shuffling, especially when the shuffling consisted of being ridden by spoiled horse-brats. Most of the children who spent so much money on horses were after only ribbons. Like Blake, the young girl never valued colors of fabric. She enjoyed pitchforks and dirty stalls as much as Blake enjoyed a clean blanket of cedar shavings. I always hoped that my love made Blake’s life slightly more bearable.
Obviously not bearable enough. He died of heart failure.   
Blake had been trailered to Washington on a Sunday, so for two days the girl had ridden Ben, a big red chestnut who loped around with heavy feet. Ben was different from Blake, who was thin, sleek, and stood at 16.2 hands. When he moved, Blake glided forward in smooth steps – never pulling at the girl’s arms.
Jockeys always carry crops with them when they ride. Throughout the entire race, the horses are whipped as encouragement to go forward faster. Not all horses – imaginably – react well to such harsh treatment. For a horse with a soft heart, crops are a scolding, not a kind of twisted encouragement.
In riding lessons the eleven-year-old would often get in trouble for not using her crop. To a child obsessed with animals, hitting one seems to go against compassionate nature. If a rider tapped Blake with the whip, he would begin to shake in fear. The eleven-year-old realized this quickly, and refused to even touch Blake with her riding crop. Out of desperation, she discovered that flicking the crop forward in her hand so that Blake’s eye caught sight of the whip, had the same effect as hitting another horse with a crop. Blake would lengthen his stride and stretch his legs at the flicking. He would also – on the rare occasion he needed encouragement – soar higher than any of the horses in his lessons. He was significantly underrated.
She felt like Blake understood her and she him, because of their unique tricks with each other. Through two years of devotion, she discovered how well he was able to understand her and answer her back. She needed only to explain her confliction to him in detail and in a moment, the girl understood how to handle her childish problems in grown-up fashion. Blake had a knack for negotiating with the child. Blake could communicate the truth, she refused to hear from others, into terms that made sense and that she admired. He could persuade her to do anything.
Can anyone really judge their own pain without comparison? What human can truly understand others’ suffering? Many children turn to animals for the support their parents can’t seem to get right. The problem isn’t that parents are doing anything wrong, but they are not doing what their child has in mind for comfort. Animals are compassionate without trying, and in their eyes children see their own understanding looking back. Horses have the largest eyes of all land mammals, so one can understand why some of the most difficult children to reach see their own problems reflected so well in those dark glossy eyes.
The young girl did not think much of Blake’s departure to a vet in Washington. Consciously, her reasoning was based on her whole-hearted belief that Blake would return the following Sunday. Subconsciously, her hope was due to the fact that she had not said a real goodbye; last Thursday she had merely kissed Blake goodbye until Monday. That was the complexity of the goodbye.  
The girl’s parents’ anxiety was hidden from their daughter. She was always a dark, introspective child, and they feared her reaction if Blake never returned, which they saw as likely. They nodded and smiled as the child chatted on and on about her plans for Blake’s future with her as his owner. They listened and hastily agreed as she guessed when he would return. As these adults worried about their possible family destruction to an extent, they grossly underestimated emotional bonds between horses and children.
The girl had never completely confided in her parents her plot to buy Blake and showcase the potential she knew he had. She had not told her family that every dream she had relished riding Blake on some wooden trail, or racing him on a sandy beach at night. As a child with many spectacular dreams, she knew the gut-wrenching feeling of rejection from a parent. She knew very well the embarrassment and consequential fear of wearing her fairy-tale hopes on her sleeve. She knew it was a long shot – riding Blake to fame and showing the world how wrongly they had judged those big kind eyes – but she didn’t care. One thing she did remember about having a best friend was that with him, she felt invincible. They had a mutual understanding and their own secret language. The bonds between children and animals are not to be taken lightly: they are true relationships. She had never met a better friend than Blake, and could still remember the hope he gave her that others had smothered.
The girl went through that week calling Julia every day for news that never arrived. She remembers that her other friends who loved animals had a mediocre grasp and apprehension of the situation. Stepping back now, she finally notices the lack of reassurance adults supplied her with, and she can finally perceive the reason behind the lack of. As she glances back at the young girl reading in Blake’s stall, the friendship seems all the more real. She remembers how she raced home from school every day that November week, hoping for a phone call saying he would be coming home.
I forgot to mention what that girl resolved the Thursday after Blake was taken to Washington. Her subconscious had begun to nag at her, but she still had hope for Blake’s return. She knew his health may not be as it was, and that if he were to be retired she would purchase him and give up riding lessons to pay for his board. The eleven-year-old thought about what a curious, yet still joyful twist of fate it would be if she acquired Blake’s ownership papers through his retirement. As if it were a sign, eleven was her lucky number and to take responsibility over the eighteen-year-old horse in her lucky birth-year she could spin into a fate simply meant to be. As this raced through her head during the days of Blake’s absence, the girl decided to visit Blake that day, the next day, or the following day. A slight fear crept into her heart that Blake may not make it, and she knew she had to drive to him at least to say goodbye. I knew Julia would welcome me.
Most people remember the date of losing a loved one, a parent, a child, or a sibling. Fewer seem to remember the date they lost their friends to premature deaths. Yet even less seem to remember the date an animal of theirs died. The number dwindles further when that animal is not owned, or even seen every day by the person. There are even fewer who remember everything; the day, the date, and the time.
I'll cling to remember you
And what you have meant to me
Could never be forgotten
The chains of death
Have fallen, but my heart still bleeds
It longs for the day
When we will be as one, one, one.”

It was November 18, 2004, at approximately 3:30 PM on a Thursday.  


1 comment:

  1. Amazing story, it makes me look at things differently...beyond just looking through tears. Heart-wrenching, and a beautiful story.